11 MLAs case: SC accepts Tamilnadu’s explanation

New Delhi: The Tamilnadu government informed the Supreme Court that Assembly Speaker P Dhanapal has initiated action on DMK petition alleging he did not act on a plea seeking disqualification of 11 AIADMK lawmakers who voted against Chief Minister E Palaniswami during a 2017 confidence vote.

The 11 lawmakers included Deputy Chief Minister O Panneerselvam. A bench comprising Chief Justice S A Bobde, Justice B R Gavai and Justice Surya Kant took note of the submission and disposed of the petition filed by the DMK.

The plea had sought disqualification of Panneerselvam and 10 others for having voted against the Palaniswami government when they were in the rebel camp.

It had contended that by voting against the trust motion, these MLAs violated the whip issued by the ruling party and hence attracted disqualification under the anti-defection law.

Senior advocate Kapil Sibal and advocate Amit Anand Tiwari appeared for the DMK in the case. The Supreme Court judges had asked the Tamilnadu government’s response on DMK’s plea when it was taken up for hearing on 4 February.

Kapil Sibal, appearing on the behalf of DMK, argued that the disqualification plea was moved before the Speaker in March 2017, but even after a lapse of three years no action has been taken by the Speaker.

”Tell us whether you are going to take action. If yes, then when and how,” the bench asked the law officer representing the Tamilnadu government.

It may be noted that the Madras High Court in April 2018 dismissed DMK’s plea seeking to disqualify the MLAs, citing pendency of a plea in the apex court on the powers of a court to issue directions to an Assembly Speaker.

NT Bureau