Madras HC confirms disqualification of 18 AIADMK MLAs

The move provided relief to Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Palanisamy while it was a major setback for TTV Dhinakaran.

Chennai: The Madras High Court on Thursday upheld Tamil Nadu speaker's decision on the disqualification of 18 AIADMK MLAs.

Justice M Sathyanarayanan of the Madras High Court upheld the Tamil Nadu speaker’s decision to disqualify the 18 AIADMK MLAs in September last year.

The move provided relief to the Tamil Nadu government led by Chief Minister E Palanisamy while it was a major setback for TTV Dhinakaran.

"It is not a setback for us. This is an experience, we will face the situation. Future course of action will be decided after meeting with the 18 MLAs," TTV Dhinakaran told the media after the court's verdict.

The 18 dissident AIADMK MLAs, were disqualified by Speaker P Dhanapal on September 18, 2017, under the anti-defection law after they met the Governor and expressed loss of confidence in Chief Minister K Palanisamy.

The meeting between the 18 MLAs with the then Governor Vidyasagar Rao on August 22, 2017 prompted the Speaker to take the decision, as they gave identical letters to the governor 'withdrawing their support' to the chief minister.

Had the Madras High Court cancelled their disqualification, the Tamil Nadu government led by Palanisamy would have lost its majority in the state assembly even though the 18 lawmakers would also lose their seats.

Now as the court has confirmed disqualification of the lawmakers, there will be by-elections for 18 seats, along with two more that have fallen vacant since the death of members.

With 20 vacant seats, the Tamil Nadu Assembly strength is down from 234 to 214. The ruling AIADMK, with 116 members, is well above the half-way mark of 107.

The high court had given a split verdict in June, after which the Supreme Court had appointed a third judge, Justice Sathyanarayana, to give his orders.

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