Chennai: The Madras High Court on Friday dismissed a petition seeking disqualification of 11 AIADMK legislators, including Deputy Chief Minister O. Panneerselvam, for voting against the government during a confidence motion moved by Chief Minister K. Palaniswami last year.
Dismissing the petition filed by DMK Whip R. Sakkrapani, the court said it could not interfere in the Assembly Speaker’s domain.
The court said it had the power of judicial review of decisions taken, but could not interfere in a matter where the Speaker had not taken a decision.
It also referred to a case pending in the Supreme Court on a similar issue arising from Andhra Pradesh.
The disqualification petition was filed against 11 AIADMK legislators for voting against the confidence motion on Chief Minister K. Palaniswami government on February 18, 2017, defying the party whip.
At that time, Panneerselvam had rebelled against the party led by jailed leader V.K. Sasikala. Later, Panneerselvam merged his group with the one led by Palaniswami who sidelined Sasikala and her relative T.T.V. Dinakaran.
The petition for disqualification was filed by Sakkarapani soon after Assembly Speaker P. Dhanapal disqualified 18 legislators owing allegiance to sidelined AIADMK leader Dinakaran.
The legislators belonging to Dinakaran camp had also written to the Governor expressing their loss of confidence in Chief Minister Palaniswai and requested him to appoint a new Chief Minister.
The case filed by the disqualified legislators against the Speaker’s action is pending before the high court.
As per the party position in Tamil Nadu assembly, the ruling AIADMK has 116 members followed by DMK-89, Congress-8, IUML-1, Independent-1, the Speaker and 18 vacant seats, totalling 234. Besides, there is one nominated member without voting right.
On Friday, the court also dismissed another petition filed by DMK lawmaker J. Anbazhagan against the unveiling of late Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa’s portrait in the Assembly.
Welcoming the two judgements, K. Pandiarajan, the Minister for Tamil Official Language and Tamil Culture, said the court’s decision was the validation of Tamil Nadu Speaker’s decision.
He said the opposition parties might be disappointed but it would give them clarity as to what kind of cases could be filed in the courts.
Tamil Nadu Fisheries Minister D. Jayakumar said the two orders of the court on Friday was like having milk and fruit together. “It is a twin happy news. Justice has been done.”