Relief to OPS, 10 TN MLAs in disqualification case

Relief to OPS, 10 TN MLAs in disqualification case

O Panneerselvam. PTI file photo.

In a major relief to the AIADMK government, the Madras High Court on Friday refused to disqualify Deputy Chief Minister O Panneerselvam and 10 others as MLAs for defying the whip and voting against the confidence motion moved by Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami on February 18, 2017.

The bench of Chief Justice Indira Banerjee and Justice Abdul Quddhose delivered the verdict on petitions filed by DMK chief whip Sakkarapani and four disqualified AIADMK MLAs loyal to rebel leader T T V Dhinakaran.

The petitions had sought disqualification of the 11 legislators for defying the AIADMK whip and voting against the motion brought by the chief minister.

The bench said it cannot direct the Speaker on the issue. The verdict strengthens the AIADMK government and Panneerselvam's position within the government and the party.

Panneerselvam was then leading the faction after having rebelled against the then interim general secretary V K Sasikala.

He and his supporters voted against Palaniswami since he was propped up by Sasikala following her conviction in the disproportionate assets (DA) case.

However, Panneerselvam merged his faction with that of Palaniswami and entered the government as deputy chief minister.

The petitioners had contended that by voting against the trust motion, the 11 MLAs, including Panneerselvam, had violated the whip issued by the ruling party and hence attracted disqualification under the anti-defection law.

Panneerselvam had opposed the pleas saying the whip was issued only to the 122 MLAs who were staying in a resort then and not to his erstwhile group.

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