Seven important political cases against the Panneerselvam faction of the AIADMK will now decide the fate of the Tamil Nadu government. These, in fact, will decide whether the E Palaniswami government will survive as the reigning power.Some of these cases include privilege notice to DMK MLAs, disqualification of 18 AIADMK MLAs owing allegiance to TTV Dhinakaran, and a case filed by DMK against the continuance of O Panneerselvam as deputy chief minister. These will now be referred to a larger bench of the Madras HC.
The first case was filed by the DMK working president MK Stalin on September 7 that questioned the legality notices to him and 20 other DMK MLAs for bringing banned gutka packets to the assembly.
2 months later, 7 inter-related cases, which involved doubts on the power of the Tamil Nadu assembly and its speaker has been referred to a larger bench by justice K Ravichandra Babu in view of the constitutional issues involved in the cases.
According to a report by the Times of India, the case of 18 disqualified AIADMK MLAs could also be the deciding factor behind the sustainability of the government. Till now, none of the judges have passed any ruling against the MLAs, except for the fact that no bypolls should be conducted for their assembly segments.
Meanwhile, DMK had also raked up the issue of non-disqualification of Panneerselvam and 11 other MLAs loyal to him, even though they are said to have defied the party whip and voted against the government. Their act has not yet been purged by the speaker, although as per rule it should be specifically pardoned within a timeframe.
TTV Dhinakaran and his loyalist Vetrivel moved a similar plea seeking disqualification of Panneerselvam and the 10 MLAs. Amid these petitions, the assembly secretary moved an application to vacate the stay passed by the single judge restraining the speaker from conducting a floor test till further orders.
Meanwhile, DMK legislator K Pitchandi filed a quo warranto petition seeking answers from deputy Chief Minister Panneerselvam and minister K Pandiarajan to explain under what authority do they still hold their offices, on the ground that the duo were disqualified to be members of the legislative assembly as they voted against the confidence motion moved by Palaniswami. It is to be noted that quo warranto is a writ or legal action requiring a person to show by what warrant an office or franchise is held, claimed, or exercised.
Pertaining to the complexity of the cases, a larger bench of High Court will be assigned to handle the entire batch of seven cases. On Thursday, Justice K Ravichandrababu recorded his view that it would be appropriate for a larger bench to hear such issues of constitutional importance and directed the court registry to place the matter before Chief Justice Indira Bannerjee for referring them to a larger bench.