October 4, 2017
The Madras High Court on Wednesday adjourned the crucial case of disqualification of 18 MLAs, the outcome of which can alter the political situation in Tamil Nadu, to next Monday with a direction to all the sides to be present and not seek any adjournments.
The order of Mr Justice K Ravichandra Babu, directing all the sides to resist seeking adjournments on the day of next hearing, indicated to the chances of a final order in the disqualification case, filed by the 18 AIADMK MLAs belonging to the rebel Dinakaran faction.
Meanwhile, the previous orders in the case – no floor test and no elections to 18 vacancies notified by the speaker – will continue to be in force.
The marathon arguments from either side, represented by senior Supreme Court advocates, lasted a little over five hours, breaking for a working lunch in between.
Abhishek Manusingvhi, representing the TTV camp, charged the speaker with acting in a partisan manner and in violation of the Constitution when he disqualified the MLAs under the anti-defection law without applying his mind. The MLAs did not vote against the government or joined some other party. They merely called on the governor seeking a change in the chief minister, the advocate told the court. The same speaker who has disqualified the 18 AIADMK MLAs did nothing to act against 12 OPS camp MLAs who had voted against the EPS government during the floor test in February, he said.
This in fact is the subject matter of another case, filed by DMK whip Chakrapani and the matter has been posted for October 12 with a directive to the speaker to file his reply then.
Speaker’s advocate, Aryaman Sundaram said countered the arguments of TTV Dinakaran’s lawyer and asserted that “there was no failure of natural justice. The speaker gave four notices to the MLAs to explain their actions, but they did not respond. Only two MLAs deposed before the speaker.” There is sufficient evidence with the speaker for disqualifying the MLAs, he said.
Sundaram said, “we have submitted 500 page reply citing reasons for disqualification.”
When asked about the speaker’s role in the other case, involving 12 OPS camp MLAs, Sundaram said that the case was sub-judice and he would not like to make a comment. “We have been asked to give a reply, we will,” he added.