Although the AIADMK government has got a temporary relief in the guise of the court verdict, the future course of action by the disqualified MLAs would decide the stability of the government.
Edappadi K Palaniswami government in Tamil Nadu has got a temporary breather of sorts with Justice M Sathyanarayanan, the third judge of Madras High Court upholding validity of Tamil Nadu Assembly Speaker P Dhanapal’s September 18, 2017 order disqualifying 18 AIADMK MLAs, owing allegiance to TTV Dhinakaran, for submitting a memorandum seeking change of chief minister to the then Governor.
With the upholding of the disqualification of the 18 MLAs, the ruling AIADMK government need not worry about the floor test in the Assembly. As on date, the AIADMK enjoys the support of 112 MLAs including Speaker. The total strength of the House has come down to 214 members from 234 following the disqualification of 18 MLAs and death of two legislators – M Karunanidhi (Tiruvarur) and AK Bose of AIADMK (Thiruparankundran).
In the House of 214, the Palaniswami government required a simple majority of 107 members to survive any floor test. Speaker has also issued a notice to the four sitting AIADMK MLAs – E Rathinasabapathy, VT Kalaiselvan, A Prabhu and S Karunas joining the TTV Dhinakaran camp. Two others MLAs U Thaiyarasu and Thamimun Ansari who won the election in the AIADMK symbol have not clearly spelt out their allegiance.
Although the AIADMK government has got a temporary relief in the guise of the court verdict, the future course of action by the disqualified MLAs would decide the stability of the government. In the case the disqualified legislators decided to face the bypoll, the AIADMK’s dual leadership of Palaniswami and deputy chief minister O Panneerselvam would be put to test with the election results deciding the future as well.
One of the disqualified MLA Thanga Tamil Selvan who is camping with other 16 disqualified legislators in Courtallam resort, hinted that they may not go for an appeal and instead face the bypolls. Asked about Thanga Thamil Selvan's view that the disqualified MLAs would not challenge the HC verdict, TTV Dhinakaran said, "It is his views. We will take a final decision on whether to challenge the verdict or face the by-election in a day or two."
"We did not expect this verdict. We will consult the disqualified MLAs on further course of action. If they agree to go for an appeal, we will do so or otherwise we will decide as per the views of the disqualified MLAs,” he said, adding that he would be meeting the disqualified MLAs at Courtallam within a day or two to decide about the next move.
After holding consultation with senior party leaders at the party headquarters, AIADMK co-coordinator and chief minister Palaniswami said that his party is already prepared to face the bypolls anytime. He said that as and when the election commission holds by-elections to the 18 assembly seats, his party would win all the seats.
DMK President MK Stalin who chaired the meeting of his parties district secretaries here asked the Election Commission of India to hold by-elections to all the 20 Assembly seats which are remaining vacant at the earliest. “We are not bothered about the outcome of the court verdict as it is a feud between two camps of AIADMK. After the verdict, 18 seats did not have people’s representatives like in the case of two other seats - Tiruvarur and Thiruparankundran. I appeal to the Election Commission to hold by-elections to all the 20 seats immediately as people eager to vote for the DMK,” he told reporters at DMK headquarters Anna Arivalayam.
On June 14, the first bench of the Madras HC passed a split verdict, with the then Chief Justice, Justice Indira Banerjee, upholding the decision of the assembly speaker in disqualifying the MLAs under the anti-defection law while the second judge, Justice M Sundar, differed and set aside the disqualification order.
Subsequently, the senior most judge of the high court, Justice Huluvadi G Ramesh, appointed Justice S Vimala as the third judge to decide the case. Aggrieved over the choice of judge, one of the disqualified legislators approached the Supreme Court seeking to transfer the case to itself. On June 27, a vacation bench of the Supreme Court nominated Justice Sathyanarayanan as the third judge.