NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Tuesday said it would like to examine whether the powers of a Speaker can be under judicial review while hearing a plea challenging the trust vote in the TN Assembly.
A bench of justices Dipak Misra and A M Khanwilkar asked senior advocate Gopal Subramaniam appearing on behalf of AIADMK MLA K Pandiarajan to submit trends followed in other countries during trust vote so as to understand the Speaker’s powers. During a hearing, Subramaniam referred to a verdict of a constitutional court of South Africa, which clearly stated that the sanctity of the Assembly can be preserved only by the Speaker. “What decision a Speaker takes, is it subject to judicial review?” the bench asked.
Solicitor General Ranjit Sinha sought two weeks to file the Centre’s detailed response. The court slated the next hearing for August 9. The court was hearing the plea against the trust vote in the government headed by Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami.
Subramanium said the ruling party MLAs had voted under duress and marshals evicted opposition legislators from the House.
The petition filed under Article 32 has challenged the proceedings of the February 18 vote and sought a fresh trust vote via secret ballot in the presence of independent observers nominated by the Supreme Court. Subramaniam told the bench that the Governor as well as Speaker can act in this issue.
Attorney General K K Venugopal had last week recused himself from the matter saying he had given legal opinion to the AIADMK faction led by Panneerselvam. On February 16, Palaniswami was sworn in as chief minister and won the trust vote 122-11 in the 234-member Assembly.
“The request for secret ballot to decide the confidence motion was rejected by Speaker without any justifiable basis especially when there were specific complaints that some MLAs from AIADMK were placed under virtual house arrest and their affirmative vote during the proceedings was obtained under the threat of force, fraud and coercion,” the petition stated.