Disqualified TN MLAs to move Supreme Court

Disqualified TN MLAs to move Supreme Court

The disqualification of 18 MLAs is likely to dominate Tamil Nadu’s political arena for a few more months with the rebel legislators deciding to challenge the Madras High Court verdict upholding the Speaker’s decision to debar them in the Supreme Court.

However, the MLAs put up a brave face by claiming that they were ready to face by-elections even if it is held tomorrow. The decision was taken by rebel leader T T V Dhinakaran after consultations with all the 18 MLAs in Madurai, 465 km from here. Interestingly, Dhinakaran, who never shies away from media interactions, did not announce the decision but left the job to his aide Thanga Tamilselvan.

“The 18 MLAs have unanimously decided to appeal against the Madras High Court order before the Supreme Court. We are going for the appeal only to tell the world that the Speaker’s action of disqualifying us was illegal. The Speaker is very vindictive, and he has been very unfair to us,” Tamilselvan, one of the disqualified MLAs, told reporters.

He said the MLAs decided to go for an appeal since they fear that the Edappadi K Palaniswami government could even stop them from contesting elections by “instigating” returning officers. “We want to take the issue to the court to ensure we get justice. But we are ready to face elections anytime,” he said.

The decision is a volte-face from the Dhinakaran camp since it has been maintaining for long that it would not go for any further appeal even if the High Court gave an adverse order. Political observers feel moving the Supreme Court would give enough time for Dhinakaran to regroup or even open back-channel talks with the AIADMK for a merger.

The disqualified legislator was also ambivalent on when they would move the apex court, saying they have the right to file an appeal within 90 days.

The 18 MLAs, all owing allegiance to jailed AIADMK leader V K Sasikala and her nephew T T V Dhinakaran, were disqualified from their membership after they met the then Governor Ch Vidyasagar Rao and expressed no confidence against Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami.

The aggrieved legislators moved the Madras High Court, which delivered a split verdict following which a third judge was appointed to hear the case afresh. The third judge, in his judgement, upheld the disqualification of the MLAs.