The Supreme Court on Monday issued notice to Deputy Chief Minister O Pannerselvam and 10 other AIADMK legislators on a petition filed by DMK whip R Sakkarapani, seeking a direction to the Tamil Nadu Assembly Speaker to act on a complaint to disqualify them on the ground that they defied the party whip and voted against the Government on the confidence motion in February 2017.
A Bench of Justices A.K. Sikri and Ashok Bhushan issued notice on the appeals filed by the DMK MLA R. Sakkarapani against Madras High Court order, refusing to give such a direction to the Speaker.
Among the 10 supporters of Pannerselvam are senior Minister K Pandian, former DGP R Nataraj and senior leader Semmalai who were then part of the breakaway AIADMK faction. They merged their faction with the Edappadi group in August that year and thus escaped disqualification.
The appeal was against the April 27 order of the Madras High Court bench headed by Chief Justice Indira Banerjee who rejected the petition on the ground the court cannot issue such a direction to the Speaker to take a decision on a complaint to disqualify these legislators as whether courts have such a power was pending before the Supreme Court.
The appellants, the 11 MLAs admittedly defied the party whip on the trust motion. Further more, the Speaker had taken no action on a complaint against them given to him on March 20 that year. Nor had the AIADMK condoned them within the stipulated period of 15 days of their defiance of the whip as per Tamil Nadu Assembly rules.
Despite having found the complaint in order, the Speaker did not even issue the notices to these legislators. He thus abandoned his jurisdiction under Tenth Schedule of the Constitution. Such being the case, a Constitution court could always issue a direction under tenth Schedule of Constitution to the Speaker
The high court, however, had rejected the petition on the ground that the question as to whether a writ of mandamus( an order) can be issued against the Speaker was pending before the apex court. Hence the present appeal to set aside the impugned order and to direct the Speaker to act on the complaint.
The main petition, disqualification of 18 pro-Dinakaran legislators who were disqualified by the Speaker on Sept 18 last year after they petitioned the Governor to change the Chief Minister, is set to come before third judge M Sathyanarayanan on July 23 in the Madras High Court.
The issue has gone before the Supreme Court appointed third judge following a split verdict given by a two-judge first of Chief Justice Indira Banerjee.
Justice Sathyanarayanan is set to hear the case from July 23 to 27. As the apex court has directed speedy disposal of the case, he is expected to give his verdict in a month or so after concluding the hearing.