The Madras High Court on Wednesday extended a stay on the floor test in the Tamil Nadu Assembly.
Justice Duraisamy ordered an interim stay until the case involving the disqualification of 18 AIADMK MLAs is disposed of. The court also ordered a stay on notifying bypolls to the 18 seats that have fallen vacant, following the disqualification of 18 AIADMK MLAs. There, was, however, no stay on the disqualification of the MLAs.
This comes after 18 MLAs of the TTV Dhinakaran faction approached the Madras High Court challenging the Tamil Nadu Assembly Speakerâ€™s decision to disqualify them.
Calling the Speakerâ€™s decision illegal and unauthorised, the MLAs moved court seeking that the Speakerâ€™s decision be quashed and their constitutional right be restored.
Appearing on behalf of eight MLAs, senior advocate Dushyant Dave argued that the Anti-defection law was being misused by the Speaker and the disqualification was an attempt to win the floor test. Stating that the Speaker was acting like a party man, the counsel also pointed out that the MLAs had not defected to any other party and had only demanded that CM Edappadi Palaniswami be changed.
â€śSimply meeting the Governor will not be grounds for disqualification. Speaker is influenced by somebody. MLAs have not voted against the party or resigned from the party so where is the question of anti-defection,â€ť said Dave. He also noted that the MLAs were not given enough time to explain their stand, stating that in three weeks everything was hurried and the MLAs disqualified.
Dave also cited the 2010 Balchandra L Jarkiholi versus BS Yeddyurappa case in Karnataka, where 11 BJP MLAs were disqualified by the Speaker for submitting petitions to the Karnataka Governor withdrawing support to then CM Yeddyurappa. Months later, however, the Supreme Court quashed their disqualification.
He went on to argue that there should be no floor test in the Assembly following the disqualification and that bye-polls should not be held for the 18 seats that are now vacant.
Appearing on behalf of Speaker P Dhanapal, advocate Aryama Sundaram informed the court that there will be no floor test in the TN Assembly for the next few days. He also pointed out that the decision of bye-polls for the 18 seats was to be made by the Election Commission.
Sundaram also called accusations that the Speaker was receiving instructions from Delhi as wrong.
Following the arguments, the case has been adjourned to October 4.
The 18 MLAs were disqualified by Speaker P Dhanapal on Monday and a gazette notification to the same effect declared that the vacancies have arisen due to the Anti-Defection Act.
The MLAs, who were supporting Dhinakaran, were disqualified on the grounds that they had â€śvoluntarily given up their party membershipâ€ť. They had in August filed individual petitions with Governor Vidyasagar Rao expressing a lack of confidence in Chief Minister Edappadi Palaniswamy and withdrawing support to him.
The disqualification reduces the strength of the Tamil Nadu Assembly for 233 to 215 and, thereby reducing the magic number from 117 to 108.
In the event of a floor test, Edappadi Palaniswami, who has the support the 111 MLAs will be able to claim majority in the House.
Last week, the Madras HC barred CM Edappadi Palaniswami from taking a floor test while hearing a petition filed by DMK.