HC begins hearing pleas challenging disqualification of MLAs

Chennai: The Madras High Court today began hearing a batch of petitions challenging the disqualification of 18 pro-Dhinakaran MLAs by the Tamil Nadu speaker.

Eight of the 18 MLAs had moved court yesterday, challenging the action against them under the anti-defection law.

They attacked Speaker P Dhanapal’s order disqualifying them as MLAs as ‘unauthorised’ and ‘illegal’ in their individual petitions.

The petitioners sought to restrain the speaker, government chief whip S Rajendran, Chief Minister K Palaniswami and the Assembly secretary from interfering with their rights as elected representatives.

Acting on a plea by Rajendran, the speaker had on Monday disqualified 18 MLAs, loyal to sidelined AIADMK leader T T V Dhinakaran, under the assembly anti-defection and disqualification rules of 1986 formed in accordance with the Tenth Schedule of the Constitution.

The chief whip had moved the speaker after the MLAs met Governor Ch Vidaysagar Rao on August 22 and expressed lack of confidence in the chief minister.

Condemning the disqualification, Dhinakaran had said they would legally challenge the speaker’s action.

The petitioners are P Vetrivel, N G Parthiban, P Palaniappan, Jayanthi Padmanabhan, Senthil Balaji, R Murugan, R Balasubramani and S Muthiah.

They sought to quash the disqualification order passed by the speaker as “unauthorised and illegal and without jurisdiction as per the binding law…”

They also asked the court to grant interim stay on the operation and implementation of the September 18 impugned order and permit them to participate in the proceedings of assembly, including the trust vote on the present government.

Senior counsel P R Raman had made a mention before Justice M Duraiswamy and sought an urgent hearing, following which the judge agreed to hear the petitions today, if filed.

With the disqualification of the 18 MLAs, the 234-member assembly has only 215 elected members with one seat being vacant already.

The government now needs only 108 votes to prove its majority in the assembly now in case of a floor test.