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18 MLAs case: Madras high court confirms their disqualification & AIADMK govt in TN safe for now

The Madras high court on Thursday confirmed the disqualification order passed by Tamil Nadu assembly speaker P Dhanapal, expelling 18 AIADMK rebel legislators from the assembly under anti-defection law.

With the verdict of the Supreme Court-appointed third judge Justice M Sathyanarayanan , the ruling AIADMK government is safe for now.

In view of the order, the AIADMK government can survive with 107 votes in case of a trust vote. As on date, the Edappadi K Palaniswami-led government is assured of the support of 109 AIADMK legislators. Even in the case of a tie in voting, the ruling party can count on the speaker’s support.
The judge vacated the interim order restraining the Election Commission of India from notifying by-elections to 18 constituencies.

The high court verdict is not the final one, as the MLAs have an option to go on appeal before the Supreme Court resulting in status quo of the present situation.
On June 14, the first bench of the court passed a split verdict , with the then Chief Justice, Justice Indira Banerjee, upholding the decision of the assembly speaker in disqualifying the MLAs under the anti-defection law. The second judge, Justice M Sundar, differed and set aside the disqualification order of the speaker on the grounds of perversity, non-compliance with principles of natural justice, mala fide and violation of constitutional mandate.

Subsequently, the senior most judge of the high court, Justice Huluvadi G Ramesh, appointed Justice S Vimala as the third judge to decide the case. Aggrieved over the choice of judge, one of the disqualified legislators approached the Supreme Court seeking to transfer the case to itself.
On June 27, a vacation bench of the Supreme Court nominated Justice Sathyanarayanan as the third judge.

Before pronouncing the verdict on Thursday, the judge said the order is his independent view.