A day after the Madras High Court upheld the disqualification of 18 AIADMK MLAs, a disqualified legislator on Friday announced that they would appeal against the order in the Supreme Court. Speaking to the media, disqualified Andipatti MLA Thanga Tamilselvan said, "The only reason our MLA posts have been snatched is because we sided with TTV Dhinakaran. There has been no action on 11 members including O Panneerselvam who changed their vote. This unanimous decision to appeal is to show that the speaker's decision is wrong."
Responding to whether their leader TTV Dhinakaran was in agreement with their views, he said, "He discussed with us and left. While the appeal is to one side, even if there is an election tomorrow, all 18 of us are ready to face elections. The Election Commissioner has clearly stated that we can contest in the elections."
Thanga Tamilselvan was referring to the February 2017 trust vote in the Tamil Nadu Assembly, where former rebel and present Deputy Chief Minister O Panneerselvam and 10 other AIADMK MLAs voted against Edappadi Palaniswami. Despite defying the party whip, the Speaker had taken no action against O Panneerselvam and the other MLAs.
The decision to move the Supreme Court comes a day after AMMK leader TTV Dhinakaran had said that he would meet the disqualified MLAs and then decide whether to face bye-elections or approach the top court. On Thursday, a number of opposition parties including the DMK, MDMK, CPI(M) and PMK called for bye-elections to be conducted at the earliest.
Meanwhile, Legislative Assembly Speaker P Dhanapal filed a caveat in the Supreme Court on Friday in the matter. According to the Indian Civil Procedure Code, a caveat would mean that a decision on the case is not reached without notice to the party that has filed the caveat.
The tie-breaking third judge of the Madras High Court, on Thursday, had upheld Speaker P Dhanapal’s disqualification of the 18 AIADMK MLAs, who had pledged loyalty to Dhinakaran. The MLAs were disqualified in September 2017 after they met the then Tamil Nadu governor Vidyasagar Rao and filed individual petitions expressing no-confidence in the rule of Edappadi K Palaniswami.
The MLAs then filed a case in the Madras High Court following which in June a two-judge bench gave a split verdict. While then Chief Justice Indira Banerjee said that she found no reason to 'interfere' in the Speaker's decision, Justice M Sundar found the disqualification to be against principles of natural justice. This was then referred to a third judge.
Reacting to the verdict of the third judge Justice M Sathyanarayanan, TTV Dhinakaran, on Thursday told the reporters that this was not a setback and was instead an experience.
“In politics, there is no setback. It is only an experience. We thought we will get a favourable verdict for us. But the judgment is the opposite. We will discuss with the 18 MLAs and decide our future course of action. Whatever the 18 MLAs decide -- if they decide to appeal, we will appeal, if they decide to face the elections, then we will not appeal. So whatever they decide, we will stand by that,” he said.