Madras HC continues stay in MLA disqualification case

Justice Ravichandrababu ordered the continuance of the “consent order”

The Madras High Court on Wednesday continued its stay on a floor test in the Tamil Nadu Assembly and holding bye elections in the 18 seats declared vacant by the Speaker after he disqualified 18 MLAs belonging to the rebel group headed by T.T.V. Dinakaran.

Justice Ravichandrababu ordered the continuance of the “consent order” earlier passed and adjourned the case for further hearing the petition against disqualification to October 9.

Appearing for the disqualified MLAs, senior Supreme Court lawyer Abhishek Manu Singhvi termed the action of the Speaker as “unconstitutional” as he acted in a “partisan and biased manner”.

They were disqualified on an “unnamed, unsigned and unverified” complaint given by the Government Whip against the MLAs contrary to the principles of natural justice and all legal principles.

Singhvi contended that the MLAs could not be disqualified under the provisions of the anti-defection law as they had not gone against the party and only petitioned the Governor for the removal of the “corrupt” Chief Minister.

“There were no legal proceedings conducted by the Speaker and rules of natural justice were not applied to the MLAs. Even their disqualification was not conveyed to them before the media and official gazette published it. They were initimated by post after two days,” the counsel maintained.

He pointed out that no action has been taken against the plea for disqualification filed against Deputy Chief Minister O. Panneerselvam and 11 MLAs who voted against the government earlier this year.

On the contrary, action against the 18 MLAs was taken on the same day of complaint and disqualification was done within 21 days.

Another senior counsel, Aryama Sundaram, who appeared for the Speaker, said the Speaker had filed a detailed counter affidavit strongly denying all the allegations made against him and that there was no denial of natural justice.

The Speaker has clearly stated that time was given to the MLAs several times. “We will argue the case when our turn comes,” he said.

Singhvi will resume arguments on October 9.

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