CHENNAI: The DMK’s swift move in initiating a no-confidence motion against Assembly Speaker P Dhanapal may disempower the Speaker from disqualifying the three ruling AIADMK MLAs who are supporting rebel leader TTV Dhinakaran.
Legal experts say that a 2016 verdict by the Uttarakhand High Court, which was subsequently upheld by the Supreme Court (‘Nabam Rebia and Bamang Felix Vs. Deputy Speaker and others), had made it clear that the Speaker cannot disqualify MLAs when a no-confidence motion is pending against him.
A senior advocate K M Vijayan said the Supreme Court judgement clearly stated that when the Speaker himself was facing the prospect of removal he cannot disqualify MLAs. “It should be seen as an attempt by the DMK to neutralise the power of the Speaker,” he said. Whenever the Assembly convenes, the no-confidence motion must be first passed before the Speaker can take a call on the disqualification of MLAs.
Assembly sources said the Deputy speaker Pollachi Jayaraman will preside over the proceedings when the DMK’s no confidence motion will be taken up. The ruling AIADMK’s move to disqualify the three MLAs is said to have been aimed at reducing the majority mark of Assembly to 116 as against 118, after MLAs get elected in 22 vacant seats.
Political observers said if the Speaker disqualifies more MLAs including those three who are facing disqualification proceedings a few days ahead of election results (May 23) the State may witness another long legal battle depending on the number of MLAs the two Dravidian majors secure in the by elections.
In the current scenario the ruling party has to win at least 10 of the 22 vacant seats in the bypolls to retain power, while DMK and its alliance, which has 97 MLAs, requires 21 MLAs more to capture power.
The DMK legal wing expressed hope that regardless of the number of seats the party wins, by-elections cannot be delayed for more than six months in the constituencies where the MLAs are disqualified. “The court cannot be blamed for delays (in conducting the bypolls),” said P Wilson, a senior advocate.