Madras HC relief to Edappadi Palaniswami govt in Tamil Nadu

Disqualification of 18 rebel AIADMK MLAs upheld by third judge.

Chennai: In a major relief to the AIADMK government headed by Edappadi K. Palaniswami, the Madras high court upheld the order of the Tamil Nadu state Assembly Speaker disqualifying the 18 dissident AIADMK MLAs of the T.T.V. Dinakaran faction from membership of the state Assembly.

Dismissing the petitions filed by P. Vetrivel and 17 other MLAs and vacating the interim orders, Justice M. Sathyanarayanan said, “This court, on an independent application of mind to the materials placed and on careful scrutiny and appreciation of the entire materials placed and after giving thorough consideration to the submissions made on behalf of the parties, is of the considered view that there is no error apparent on the face of the record and the reasons assigned by the Speaker did not suffer on the grounds of breach of constitutional mandate, malafides, non-compliance of the rules of natural justice and no perversity is attached to the reasons assigned by the Speaker to disqualify the petitioners”.

The 18 AIADMK MLAs were disqualified on September 18, 2017, under the anti-defection law after they met the governor and expressed loss of confidence in CM Mr Palaniswami.

Originally, the first bench comprising the then Chief Justice Indira Banerjee and Justice M. Sundar, which heard the petitions, had on June 14 delivered a split verdict. While CJ Banerjee, upheld the order of the Speaker, Justice Sundar set aside the order and the matter was referred to a third judge.

The SC had nominated Justice Sathyanarayanan as the third judge to decide the issue. Since Justice Sathyanarayanan concurred with the judgment of Chief Justice Banerjee, the majority judgment would stand and the order of the Speaker, disqualifying the 18 MLAs is confirmed now.

The judge said the Speaker, being the ultimate authority under the Tenth Schedule to decide the issue relating to disqualification, did not violate the principles of natural justice.

One of the grounds of attack viz., mala fide has not also been substantiated. As regards perversity, the materials placed have been appreciated in a particular manner and in the light of limited scope of judicial review available to this court, this court cannot re-appreciate the same like any other appellate Forum and reach a different conclusion, the judge added.

The judge said, “In the considered opinion of this court, the Speaker had considered all the relevant materials and though it was vehemently submitted that he has placed reliance upon extraneous and irrelevant materials and in doing so, have not afforded any opportunity whatsoever to refute the same, in the light of the above discussion, this court finds that there were materials available on record and the Speaker has taken cognisance of the same and on appreciation, reached the conclusion and therefore, it cannot be said that no reasonable or sensible person, who had applied his mind to the issue to be decided, could have arrived at the findings to disqualify the petitioners, the judge added.

In his order, Justice Sathyanarayanan said “The impugned order was passed by a high ranking Constitutional functionary, namely, the Speaker and though allegations were made as to mala fide act, bias and partisan attitude, in the considered opinion of the court, those allegations/averments have not been substantiated in the form of proof or tenable materials. A perusal and consideration of materials would also indicate that the Speaker has taken into consideration the statement of MLA S.T.K.Jakkaiyan only for the limited purpose i.e., whether the petitioners were available at Chennai on the date of submission of their reply and after considering that the petitioners had suffered disqualification under Paragraph 2 (1) (a) of the Tenth Schedule, proceeded further and dealt with the retraction of the said MLA separately. It was also open to the Speaker to take into consideration the materials, till he reaches his conclusion.”

Referring to the submissions on Yeddyurappa’s case, the judge said, “It is a well settled position of law that each case has to be decided on its own facts and circumstances and on the issue of law and the Court has to take into consideration the ratio and follow the precedents. In the considered opinion of the court though initially it appears that Yeddyurappa’s case would apply to the facts of this case, however turned out to be distinguishable in the light of the above reasons. In the considered opinion of the court, Yeddyurappa’s case relied on by the petitioners is distinguishable on the facts of this case”.

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