The Supreme Court on Tuesday asked the Tamil Nadu government to respond to a plea seeking the disqualification of 11 All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam MLAs in 2017, PTI reported. The petition, moved by the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, alleged inaction by the Assembly speaker to a call for disqualification for voting against the AIADMK government during a trust vote in February 2017.
The 11 MLAs include O Panneerselvam, now the state’s deputy chief minister who had rebelled against the AIADMK in 2017 against the decision to make VK Sasikala the party general secretary. The two factions – one led by Chief Minister E Palaniswami and the other by Panneerselvam – merged in August 2017, after which Panneerselvam became the deputy chief minister.
A Supreme Court bench led by Chief Justice of India SA Bobde noted the submission. “Tell us whether you are going to take action. If yes, then when and how,” the bench said. The matter will be taken up again on February 14. Bobde described the three-year delay in initiating the disqualification proceedings against the MLAs as “unnecessary”, Bar and Bench reported.
The court, however, clarified that it was not going to intervene in the Speaker’s jurisdiction. “Of course, there is nothing we can do about the Speaker deciding to do it [take cognisance of the anti-defection pleas] or not,” Bobde said, according to The Hindu. “But we must take cognisance if he keeps them pending... Why did you not take cognisance for three years?”
In April 2018, the Madras High Court had dismissed the DMK’s petition seeking disqualification of the lawmakers after which the party approached the Supreme Court in May 2018.