The Supreme Court on Friday said it will consider urgent hearing on a plea by Tamil Nadu’s main opposition party DMK seeking disqualification of 11 MLAs from the ruling AIADMK for voting against Chief Minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami during a trial of strength in the state assembly in 2017.
A bench led by Chief Justice SA Bobde agreed to consider the plea after senior advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for the DMK, sought an urgent hearing.
The 11 AIADMK MLAs include Deputy Chief Minister O Panneerselvam, whom the DMK accused of having violated the anti-defection law under the Tenth Schedule of the Constitution.
Sibal referred to a January 21 verdict of the apex court, saying Speakers of Lok Sabha and state assemblies should decide disqualification petitions against legislators, especially those who defect, within a “reasonable period” of maximum three months.
He also submitted that the Speaker of the Manipur Assembly had been directed by the Supreme Court to decide on the disqualification of state Forest Minister Thounaojam Shyamkumar Singh in four weeks.
The court had observed that Parliament should “rethink” whether the Speaker of a House should continue to have powers to disqualify lawmakers as such a person holding the post belonged to a particular political party.
In April 2018, the Madras High Court had rejected DMK’s plea for disqualification of the 11 MLAs on the ground that a petition was pending before the Supreme Court on powers of a court to issue directions to the state Assembly Speaker.
The AIADMK legislators had voted against Palaniswami when they were the rebel camp in the party.