MLAs petitioning Guv attracts anti-defection law: Counsel

By PTI Published on Jul 26, 2018 10:28 AM IST

Chennai: The Madras High Court has been informed that when the ruling party MLAs present a petition against the Chief Minister, the only role the Governor has in such situation is to dissolve the government.

"Petitioning him to do his constitutional duty is nothing but asking him to dissolve the government, which attracts the anti-defection law," Aryama Sundram, senior counsel for Assembly Speaker P Dhanapal said yesterday.

He was making his submission before Justice M Sathyanarayanan during the hearing of the pleas challenging the disqualification of the MLAs loyal to sidelined leader T T V Dhinakaran by the Speaker on 18 September last year.

The allegation made by the 18 MLAs against the Speaker saying he was trying to create an "artificial majority" in the case of a floor test implies that if the legislators were not removed there will not be majority for the government, he added.

Alleging that the government headed by the Chief Minister was in constitutional crisis, they wanted the AIADMK to remove the Chief Minister, who was elected by the majority, and when the party refused to address their grievance, they petitioned the Governor against the stand taken by the party.

"If they are in disagreement with the decision of the party, they should have left the party or if they wanted to remain in the party they should do so and try to settle the issue internally. But choosing to petition the Governor clearly implies that they are acting against the party," Sundaram said.

"One should either subscribe to the ideology or stand of a political party, or he does not belong to the party at all. The question of whether a person has left the party also depends on the fact whether he subscribes to the stand of the party. The petitioners might want to bring 'Rama Rajyam' (Rule of Ram), but they should do so by floating their own party," the counsel said.

"The entire episode is due to the merger of OPS faction with EPS faction, which had angered T T V Dhinakaran who made the MLAs petition the Governor," Sundaram asserted.

The Speaker is a constitutional post, the head of the Assembly and enjoys the same status of the judge of the High Court, he said.

"He heads a separate wing (legislature), another wing (judiciary) terming his acts perverse is not appropriate," he submitted.

Recording the submissions, the judge adjourned the hearing to 3 August.

Justice Sathyanarayanan is hearing the petitions after a bench of Chief Justice Indira Banerjee and Justice M Sundar had last month given a split verdict on the petitions.

The 18 were disqualified as MLAs by the Speaker under the anti-defection law after they met the then governor Ch Vidyasagar Rao and expressed loss of confidence in Chief Minister K Palaniswami.

In view of the split verdict, with the CJ upholding the disqualification and Justice Sundar setting it aside, earlier Justice S Vimala was appointed to hear the petitions afresh.

However, the Supreme Court named Justice Sathyanarayanan while declining to accept a prayer of the disqualified MLAs who raised apprehension of 'bias' and sought to transfer the matter to the apex court.