The Telangana High Court on Wednesday issued notices to state Assembly Speaker P Srinivas Reddy and 12 Congress MLAs who defected to the Telangana Rashtra Samithi on June 6, PTI reported. The notice was issued based on a plea by Congress Legislature Party leader M Bhatti Vikramarka and Telangana Pradesh Congress Committee President N Uttam Kumar Reddy against the merger of the legislature party with the Telangana Rashtra Samithi.

On Wednesday, a bench comprising Acting Chief Justice Raghvendra Singh Chauhan and Justice Shameem Akther issued notices to Reddy, 12 Congress MLAs and the Assembly secretary, and ordered them to file replies within four weeks.

The Congress had won 19 of Telangana’s 119 seats during the 2018 Assembly elections. Uttam Kumar Reddy had resigned as MLA after his election to the Lok Sabha. However, 12 of its 18 remaining MLAs joined the ruling Telangana Rashtra Samithi on June 6. The speaker had approved the defections as the MLAs constituted two thirds of the Congress’ strength in the Assembly, thus satisfying the provisions of the anti-defection law. If the merger is not reversed, the Congress may lose the status of Opposition party in the state Assembly.

The rebel Congress legislators have been allotted seats along with the members of the Telangana Rastra Samithi in the House, the Assembly said in a bulletin. Uttam Kumar Reddy called the move “completely illegal” and accused Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao, popularly known as KCR, of cheating the mandate of the people. Subsequently, the Congress filed a petition in the High Court on Monday against the bulletin.

However, Senior Congress legislator Gandra Venkata Ramana Reddy, who is among the 12 MLAs who defected, said the rebel legislators decided to work with K Chandrasekhar Rao for the development of the state. “We held a special meeting of the Congress Legislature Party,” Reddy said. “The 12 members supported the leadership of Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao and wanted to work with him. We gave a representation to the speaker and requested him to merge us with the TRS.”