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Adding to the murkiness that has become characteristic of Tamil Nadu politics, a petition has been moved in the Madras High Court praying for disqualification proceedings to be initiated against incumbent Deputy Chief Minister O Paneerselvam (OPS) and ten other AIADMK MLAs.
The petition was filed by DMK Whip R Sakkrapani against the above mentioned for voting against the E Palaniswami lead government last February.
Sakkrapani has contended that the same contravened the directions of the AIADMK party Whip. It is therefore a square ground for disqualification under the Anti-Defection laws in Paragraph 2(1)(b) of the Tenth Schedule to the Constitution.
Relying on Rajendra Singh Rana v Swami Prasad Maurya, it has been argued that OPS and the 10 AIADMK MLAs stood disqualified the very same day they cast their vote contrary to their party Whip’s instructions. It is further contended that their disqualification has become final, given that they have not been condoned within fifteen days, as per the requirements of the Tenth Schedule.
Despite petitions calling for disqualification proceedings, the Speaker did not issue notice to that effect. This in turn violates the mandate in Rules 6 and 7 of the Tamil Nadu Legislative (Disqualification on Ground of Defection) Rules, 1986.
In contrast, the Speaker promptly issued notice and thereafter disqualified 18 AIADMK MLAs on September 18, after they expressed lack of confidence in Chief Minister Palaniswamy’s government. Sakkrapani points out,
“This conduct of the 2nd respondent/ Speaker clearly shows that he is acting in a biased manner on the dictates of the Chief Minister and contrary to the Constitutional principles and conventions of being impartial and free from political ideology.
In fact there is serious question as to the impartiality and independent functioning of the 2nd respondent. He is acting on extraneous consideration, in tandem with the Chief Minister and against the law.”
In support of this contention, he has also referred to the recent Privilege Committee notice issued to Leader of Opposition MK Stalin and 21 other DMK MLAs for bring gutka packets to the assembly floor only “to highlight the ineptitude of the government in controlling its sale.”
This was after Stalin had made written representations to the Governor calling for CM Palaniswamy to prove his majority through a floor test. Thus, it has been contended that such a move was resorted to “to grant every conceivable partisan advantage to the government and shield it from any democratic accountability in the House.”
Several petitions have been filed protesting the disqualification of the 18 AIADMK MLAs, the privilege committee notice and the apparent reluctance of the authorities to conduct a floor test. In response, the Madras High Court had passed interim orders to stay the floor test as well as elections in respect of the 18 MLAs until further orders. The matter is due to be heard on October 4.
Reference has also been made to a petition that had been filed against the Palaniswamy-led government by K Pandiarajan, who belongs to the erstwhile warring OPS faction in the Supreme Court in March. The same was withdrawn after OPS was appointed as Deputy Chief Minister and Pandiarajan inducted as Minister for Tamil Official Language and Tamil Culture and Archaeology. It has been contended that, “this brazen act of political corruption is not only unconstitutional but also attracts provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act.”
The matter is likely to come up during the vacation court sitting tomorrow.
Read copy of affidavit below.