The Supreme Court on Monday stayed the disqualification proceedings initiated by Tamil Nadu Assembly Speaker P Dhanapal against three AIADMK MLAs for supporting TTV Dhinakaran.
Granting an interim stay on a petition by two out of the three AIADMK legislators against the disqualification notice served on them, the first bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi ordered notice to the Speaker. The court passed the order on a petition was filed by AIADMK MLAs E Rathinasabapathy from Aranthangi and VT Kalaiselvan from Virudhachalam.
They were among the three rebel legislators against whom AIADMK whip Rajendran filed a complaint with the Speaker that they were office-bearers of Amma Makkal Munnetra Kazhagam formed by breakaway AIADMK leader T T V Dinakaran and that they worked for his party in the just concluded to the Lok Sabha elections and the simultaneous by-elections to the Tamil Nadu Assembly.
The third legislator against whom notice has been served is A Prabhi from Kallakurichi. He did not join the other rebels in the case in the Supreme Court. The petitioner contended that the action by the Speaker was taken in an arbitrary manner without jurisdiction and actuated with malice. They also argued that with a no-confidence motion pending against the Speaker, he could not adjudicate in a matter of disqualification.
“It has been held by this court that it would be constitutionally impermissible for the Speaker to adjudicate a dispute of disqualification petition under the Tenth Schedule of the Constitution while a notice of resolution for his own removal from the office of Speaker is pending,” they contended. Senior advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for the MLAs, claimed the Speaker could have acted in “partisan and a biased manner contrary to the high position” because a motion for his own removal moved by the DMK on April 30 was pending.
Senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for the Speaker, objected the MLAs coming straight to the apex court barely after the Speaker’s notice to them. All three legilators denied that they were supporting Dinakaran. They said they continue to be in the AIADMK and in fact voted for the Edpapadi Government in the trust vote in February 2017. They pointed out that 11 legislators who were supporters of current Deputy Chief Minister O Pannerselvam voted against the Government then.
No action was taken against them. Pannerselvam was made Deputy Chief Minister and joint coordinator of the AIADMK after he merged his group with Edappadi in August 2017. On the other hand, the Speaker disqualified 18 supporters of Dinakaran, an action which was later upheld by Madras High Court. A petition filed by the DMK petition challenging the inaction by the Speaker against the Pannerselvam is pending in the Supreme Court.
The AIADMK moved against the three rebels to boster the Government position as four by-elections are due to be held on May 19. With the Supreme Court granting an interim stay and ordering notice to the Speaker, the Government has been effectively stymied.