The Madras High Court bench comprising of Chief Justice Indira Banerjee and Justice M Sundar today gave a split verdict on the case of the disqualification of 18 AIADMK dissident MLAs who had earlier switched loyalty to RK Nagar MLA TTV Dhinakaran.
While the Chief Justice upheld the disqualification of all 18 MLAs, justice Sundar said that the disqualification is not valid. Hence, the case is being referred to third judge.
“Trust vote on Edappadi K Palaniswami government cannot be held until the third judge gives the verdict on the disqualification of 18 MLAs. Also, by-elections cannot be held for the 18 constituencies until the verdict,” the Madras High Court said.
In view of the importance and urgency of the matter, the third judge will be named within a week, the Chief Justice said.
Earlier, Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami held discussions with Advocate General Vijay Narayan at the Secretariat ahead of the verdict.
Meanwhile, according to our correspondent, 16 of 18 disqualified MLAs had turned up at the residence of TTV Dhinakaran. Uma Maheswari and Jayanthi Padmanabhan were the two MLAs who were absent.
“We did not expect a split verdict,” said Thanga Thamizh Selvan, one of the 18 disqualified MLAs and supporter of TTV Dhinakaran. He also said that all 18 MLAs are standing united and won’t shift loyalties.
In September 2017, 18 rebel MLAs met the Governor and submitted a letter seeking replacement of Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami.
Subsequently, Speaker P Dhanapal disqualified the MLAs under Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly (Disqualification on Ground of Defection) Rules, 1986 and declared that 18 AIADMK MLAs had lost their MLA posts.
The disqualification of MLAs has brought the Assembly’s strength to 215, thereby reducing the total number of MLAs required for majority to 108.