CHENNAI: Justice M Duraiswamy of the Madras High Court extended the operation of his earlier order, which stayed the conduct of a floor test to the Tamil Nadu State Legislative Assembly. The judge also restrained the Election Commission of India from issuing election notification to the 18 constituencies, which had been declared vacant on September 19, pursuant to the disqualification of the rebel MLAs on September 18.
The judge was passing interim orders on the writ petitions filed by the 18 disqualified MLAs challenging the order of Speaker P Dhanapal on September 18.
The interim order was passed based on consent given by both parties — the speaker and the petitioner MLAs. Earlier, senior counsel Dushyant Dave, representing the 18 MLAs told the judge that no MLA had defected from the AIADMK to switch over any other political party. So the penal action against them under the Anti-defection law is unwarranted. The Speaker had totally ignored the ruling of the Supreme Court in BS Yeddyurappa case. The MLAs had been unlawfully stripped of their posts only to enable the Edappadi K Palaniswami government to get through the confidence motion, he said, adding that the MLAs had given a representation to the State Governor expressing lack of confidence only in the chief minister and not in the government.
The MLAs in question neither voluntarily gave up their posts nor denied the whip, but yet they were disqualified because the Speaker failed to try and ascertain the truth. “The Speaker is not above law, and he too is bound to act within the Constitution,” he said. The Speaker, in this case, had acted like a political person and all his actions are under the scrutiny of the court under Article 226 of the Constitution, Dave said adding that “people sitting in Delhi are deciding the affairs of Tamil Nadu”.
Speaker’s senior counsel Aryama Sundaram said it would not be fair to drag the Centre into the controversy.
Recording the submissions, the court passed the interim order and posted the pleas to October 4 for further hearing.