CHENNAI: The Madras High Court today fixed July 23 for the commencement of arguments on petitions challenging the disqualification of 18 AIADMK MLAs loyal to sidelined party leader T T V Dhinakaran and said it would hear the matter continuously for five days.
When the matter came up before Justice M Sathyanarayanan, he said it would be heard continuously from July 23 to 27.
"I will take up the case for final hearing from July 23 to 27 as the lead item on the list every day at 10.30 am," he said.
The judge was appointed by the Supreme Court to adjudicate the pleas after a high court division bench gave a split verdict last month.
Earlier, senior counsel P S Raman, who appeared for the disqualified MLAs, said he was ready to commence arguments today itself.
The counsel said he would need only one day for making his submissions.
The counsels representing the chief minister and the assembly speaker said they would complete their arguments within the fixed time.
The judge then posted the petitions to July 23 for start of the final hearing.
The division bench comprising Chief Justice Indira Banerjee and Justice M Sundar had on June 14 given a split verdict on the petitions challenging the September 18 last year order of Assembly Speaker P Dhanapal disqualifying the 18 ruling party MLAs under the anti-defection law.
The ruling had come as a relief to the K Palaniswami government as it maintained status quo in the corridors of power.
Justice Banerjee had upheld the Speaker's order disqualifying the MLAs, while Justice Sundar disagreed with her and quashed it.
The court had then said that the senior-most judge after its Chief Justice would hand-pick a third judge, who will hear the matter afresh.
Following this, Justice S Vimala of the high court was appointed as the third judge to hear the matter.
However, the Supreme Court named Justice Sathyanarayanan to hear the matter while refusing the plea of some of the disqualified MLAs seeking transfer of their petitions from the high court to the apex court.
The petitioners had claimed apprehension of "bias".
A vacation bench comprising justices Arun Mishra and Sanjay Kishan Kaul gave the order on June 27.
The Speaker had disqualified the 18 MLAs on the ground that they had tried to pull down AIADMK government headed by Palaniswami.