Days after the Madras High Court delivered a split verdict in the disqualification case of 18 MLAs from the Tamil Nadu Assembly, the legislators are likely to approach the Supreme Court. They are set to request that the Apex court take up the case, even as a third judge from the HC deliberates over the final judgement. The MLAs who were with the AIADMK defected to support TTV Dhinakaran when he formed his own party.
On June 14, the first bench of the Madras High Court led by Chief Justice Indira Banerjee and Justice M Sundar came out with differing judgements. While CJ Banerjee upheld the disqualification of the 18 AIADMK MLAs, Justice Sundar quashed the disqualification order by the Speaker.
Justice Banerjee said she found the Speakerâ€™s decision reasonable and therefore did not find a reason to interfere with the order. Justice Sundar meanwhile, said the Speakerâ€™s decision was violative of the principles of natural justice which is why it should be subject to judicial review. Following this, Justice Vimala was appointed to decide the final verdict.
But in their petition to the Supreme Court, 17 of the 18 MLAs will reportedly ask the Supreme Court to take over the case and also to list it for hearing at the earliest. When TNM contacted disqualified MLA P Vetrivel, he confirmed that it was for a 'genuine' reason.
"There are various reasons for our decision and all of them are genuine," he says cryptically. "We are not against the High Court's decision. But we have to appeal to the Supreme court. We can't reveal exactly why," he adds.
Soon after the HC's split verdict, the rebel MLAs had maintained that the Speaker's decision to disqualify them had been against natural justice. The verdict received flak and scathing attacks were launched against the Chief Justice for her decision and over the lack of a timeframe given for the case to come to an end.
Justice N Kirubakaran had in fact questioned why no action was taken against those making derogatory remarks against the CJ.
â€śThe honourable Chief Justice may not bother about such comments because of her magnanimity but we cannot keep quiet. If this can happen to the Chief Justice of the highest court of the State, what [is the guarantee that it] cannot happen to district judges, sub judges and judicial magistrates? We have to protect the judiciary from such onslaught,â€ť he said.
On Sunday, the Chief Justice herself defended her decision at an event in Coimbatore.
"There is no scope for a judge to explain the judgement. Instead, the judgement speaks for the judge," said Justice Indira Banerjee. â€śThe fact that there are split verdicts shows the judicial independence and there is no reason to suppose in advance that a third judge would decide this way or that way. We can reasonably expect the judge to decide as per his or her conscience and understanding of the law applied to the facts of the given state,â€ť she added.