AIADMK feud splits HC too

Political uncertainty in Tamil Nadu is bound to continue for some more time as the first bench of the Madras high court delivered a split verdict in the ‘18 MLAs disqualification case’.

While Chief Justice Indira Banerjee upheld the speaker’s September 18, 2017 order stripping 18 rebel AIADMK legislators of their posts, saying scope of judicial review was limited, her companion judge Justice M Sundar quashed the speaker’s decision, saying the MLAs’ act of alleged defection was not ‘clear, categoric and unambiguous.” They were disqualified on September 18, 2017 under anti-defection law for having submitted a memorandum to the governor withdrawing their support to CM Edappadi K Palaniswami. On September 20, the court asked the election commission not to treat them as vacancies and hold by-elections. The first bench reserved its order on January 23.

In a development that would prolong the uncertainty on the status of the MLAs, and consequently the stability of the government, the judges failed to reach a consensus over the issue. They referred the matter to the next senior-most judge of the court so as to be posted before a third judge for hearing. The bench also made it clear that the bar on holding bypoll in 18 seats would continue. In her order, Chief Justice Banerjee said that though orders of the speaker under the Tenth Schedule were amenable to judicial review, the scope of such review is limited to violation of constitutional mandate, mala fides, non-compliance with rules of natural justice and perversity.

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