No floor test in Tamil Nadu Assembly till 20 September: HC
Chennai: The Madras high court on Thursday stayed any move to hold a trust vote on the government’s strength in the Tamil Nadu legislative assembly till 20 September.
The court was hearing the opposition Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam’s (DMK) petition seeking direction to Tamil Nadu chief minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami to prove his government’s majority on the floor of the house following factionalism in the ruling All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam’s (AIADMK) party.
At the hearing, justice M. Duraiswamy asked the advocate general to clarify whether action will be taken against those legislators who had supported a breakaway faction led by the party’s ousted deputy general secretary, T.T.V. Dhinakaran. These rebel MLAs were earlier issued notices by the assembly speaker, but the advocate general said the government cannot give an assurance on the matter.
Arguing that the court cannot interfere in legislative proceedings, advocate general Vijay Narayan told the court that action against the legislators from the Dhinakaran camp has already begun.
Narayan sought time to obtain instructions from governor C. Vidyasagar Rao based on DMK’s plea. Rao is schedule to visit Chennai on Monday.
After 19 MLAs backing Dhinakaran met Rao on 22 August and withdrew support to Palaniswami, government whip S. Rajendran called for them to be disqualified, prompting speaker P. Dhanapal to issue notices and seek clarifications.
On Thursday, senior counsel Kapil Sibal, who argued on behalf of the DMK, argued that by calling for disqualification, the government was creating artificial means to turn Palaniswami’s minority government into a majority one.
Earlier this month, S.T.K. Jakkaiyan, one of the 19 MLAs, switched his loyalties back to the chief minister’s camp.
While DMK moved the court on Tuesday demanding a floor test, some of the legislators from the Dhinakaran faction approached the court on Thursday.
While the DMK leaders had earlier met Rao on 27 August, the governor told leaders from other opposition parties on 31 August that he can’t intervene in a “party’s issue”, which led the opposition parties in the state to claim that the governor was failing to uphold his “constitutional obligations and moral responsibility”.
DMK leader M.K. Stalin said that Rao was “indulging in politics”.
In an allegedly related move, the privilege committee of the Tamil Nadu assembly last month issued notices to 21 DMK MLAs, including Stalin. They were held guilty of having displayed “guthka” sachets in the assembly on 19 July to support their charge that banned tobacco products were illegally sold in Chennai.
The Madras HC had adjourned a plea filed by 21 DMK MLAs challenging the assembly privilege committee’s notice to 12 October.
But the DMK moved the court alleging that the whole thing was an attempt to help the ruling faction of the AIADMK to show a working majority.