The Supreme Court today agreed to hear on June 17 a petition filed by 17 out of the 18 disqualified AIADMK legislators, seeking transfer of the case from the Madras High Court after a split verdict.
Thanga Tamil Selvan, who was among those disqualified, has decided to withdraw the case, saying that he would take the issue to the people through a by-election as different benches of the same court have two different judgments. One bench held that it cannot give a direction to the Speaker to act on a complaint against another group of dissidents led by present Deputy Chief Minister O Pannerselvam and 10 others who voted against the Edappadi K Palanisamy in the trust vote on Feb 18 last.
Another bench, comprising Chief Justice Indira Banerjee and Justice, which into the disqualification of the 18 supporters of rebel leader T T V Dinarakan after they petitioned the Governor to remove the Chief Minister, gave a split verdict with the CJ upholding the Speaker’s action and Justice M Sundar striking it down as perverse.
A third judge, Justice Vimala who has to decide the issue, is yet to begin hearing. A vacation bench of justices Arun Mishra and S.K. Kaul said it will hear the plea on Wednesday to plea to transfer the case from the Madras High Court.
Senior advocate Vikas Singh, appearing for the 17 legislators, said it is a serious matter which requires urgent hearing. The petitioners also mentioned Justice Vimala’s son was in the Tamil Nadu Government panel of advocates.
The Madras High Court, after the split verdict on June 14, ordered that status quo should be maintained till the final verdict was given by the third judge. This means that the 18 seats held by the disqualified legislators should not be filled through by-elections nor should any floor test be held to decide whether the Government has majority.
If Thanga Tamil Selvan withdraws his petition challenging his disqualification, the high court can lift the stay on by-election in his constituency. In her 200-page order, the Chief justice had upheld the Speaker's decision, saying that she was “unable to hold that it is any way unreasonable, irrational or perverse.”
Justice Sundar, in his 135-page order, set aside the Speaker’s order on grounds of perversity, non-compliance with principles of natural justice, mala fides and violation of the constitutional mandate”. On Wednesday, the Supreme Court will decide whether the petition to transfer the case is maintainable.
Normally, a plea for transfer of a case is not entertained unless the petitioners are able to prove that the atmosphere in the State is not conducive to a fair hearing. Counsel Vikas Singh, in his transfer petition, has alleged that third judge Vimala’s son is in a panel of advocates appearing for the Government of Tamil Nadu.