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Tamil Nadu politics has once again made its way before the Supreme Court, this time in a plea to restrain the Speaker of the State Legislative assembly from proceeding with disqualification proceedings initiated against MLAs of the AIADMK party who had expressed support for the rival AMMK leader, TTV Dinakaran.
The Supreme Court today issued notice in the petition filed by VT Kalaiselvan, elected from the Vriddhachalam constituency on an AIADMK ticket. The Court has stayed the disqualification proceedings initiated against him pending before the Speaker. A similar plea has also been filed by another AIADMK MLA, E Rathinasabapathy.
The latest controversy erupted when Chief Whip of the ruling All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) party S Rajendran filed a complaint with Speaker P Dhanapal to disqualify three AIADMK MLAs, including the two petitioners, for “Anti-Party activities.”
The defection complaint followed after the three reportedly expressed their support of TTV Dinakaran, who had broken away from the ruling AIADMK faction to eventually form the Amma Makkal Munnetra Kazhagam (AMMK) party.
In response to the complaint filed by Rajendran April 26, the Speaker issued notice to the three MLAs on April 29. The notice is stated to have been received by the MLAs on May 1.
In the meanwhile, the opposition party, Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK), moved a resolution for the removal of the Speaker himself, contending that his conduct over the last two years has been biased in favour of the ruling AIADMK. This resolution was reportedly moved on May 30, a day before the defection complaint notice was received by the petitioner AIADMK MLAs.
While this is the case, it has now been contended before the Supreme Court that the Speaker is no longer permitted to adjudicate on the matter of disqualifying the AIADMK MLAs. This is in view of the Supreme Court’s judgment in the case of Nabam Rebia v Deputy Speaker, Arunachal Pradesh (2016). Placing reliance on the law laid down in this case, the petitioner argues,
“In Nabam Rebia’s case, it has been held by this Hon’ble Court that it would be constitutionally impermissible for the Speaker to adjudicate a dispute of disqualification petition under the 10th Schedule of the Constitution while notice of resolution for his own removal from the office of Speaker is pending. “
The petitioner has also expressed support for the resolution moved for the Speaker’s removal, submitting that the actions of the Speaker over the last two years “speaks volumes of his partisan and biased conduct.”
In this regard, the petitioner cites the example of the 18 MLA disqualification controversy, as well as the Speaker’s continued reluctance to take action against incumbent Deputy Chief Minister O Paneerselvam and 10 other AIADMK MLAs for voting contrary to the Chief Whip’s directions during a trust vote held in February 2017.
In this backdrop, the petition has been moved on an apprehension that the Speaker may “unlawfully” disqualify the petitioner. The apprehension has arisen particularly in view of the fact that election results for 22 constituencies in Tamil Nadu are due to be announced on May 23. The petition points out,