The Hyderabad High Court on Tuesday issued notices to 22 legislators from the YSR Congress Party who had defected to the ruling TDP party in Andhra Pradesh.
This included four ministers who were elected on a YSRCP ticket; C Adinarayana Reddy, N. Amarnath Reddy, Bhuma Akhila Priya and Krishna Ranga Rao.
The court was hearing a PIL filed by ex-MLA A Venkata Rambabu from the state's Prakasam district.
Issuing notices to the state's law secretary and secretary of the Assembly, the bench was quoted as saying, “We will issue notices to the ministers and other respondent MLAs to seek their explanation.”
"Though complaint was lodged before the Assembly Speaker on defections, no notice was served to those MLAs till date. How can the four defected MLAs enjoy cabinet minister posts when their defection itself was against the Constitution?" the petitioner's counsel asked.
Those who were issued notices, were given two weeks to respond.
This comes just a week after leaders of the YSRCP met with Assembly Speaker Kodela Sivaprasad Rao and submitted a memorandum that demanded the immediate disqualification of the 22 MLAs who had defected to the ruling TDP.
“As per Schedule X of the Constitution, disqualification petitions should be disposed of. If the Speaker does it, our party MLAs, after participating in the protest in New Delhi on March 5, will be attending the Assembly from March 6 onwards,” party general secretary and MP V Vijaya Sai Reddy was quoted as saying.
In April last year, YSRCP chief Jaganmohan Reddy met with then President Pranab Mukherjee in New Delhi over the issue of defected party legislators being inducted into the Andhra cabinet, days after he also submitted a letter to Governor ESL Narasimhan, seeking immediate action on the issue.
Stating that Naidu had "no respect for the constitution and the democratic spirit", Jagan alleged that the TDP was welcoming defectors with open arms, on the assurance that they would not be disqualified.