In a relief for Tamil Nadu CM K Palaniswami, the Madras High Court on Thursday delivered a split verdict in the case of 18 disqualified AIADMK MLAs. While the Chief Justice of Madras High Court upheld the decision of Assembly Speaker to disqualify 18 lawmakers belonging to AIADMK last year ahead of trust vote, other judge disagreed with him. The case has now been referred to a three-judge bench.
The MLAs were disqualified in September last year by the Assembly Speaker under the anti-defection law.
Reacting over the court's decision, rebel AIADMK leader TTV Dhinakaran claimed the support of all 18 MLAs and added that he would soon form 'Amma's government' in Tamil Nadu.
"This is a disappointment for the people. The judge has given the right judgment. MLAs are with us, if they wanted some profit they wouldn't have been in opposition. They're fighters. We'll form Amma's government," Dhinakaran said.
"I feel dissatisfied that the verdict has facilitated in giving two or three months of extension to the anti-people government in Tamil Nadu. Even people are dissatisfied, he added.
While the ruling AIADMK was confident that there is no threat to the government, the stability of the Palaniswami government could have been under stress if the high court had quashed the Speaker's September 18, 2017 order disqualifying the 18 MLAs who had then sided with rebel leader TTV Dhinakaran.
On the other hand, the Opposition DMK has been claiming that with the disqualification of the MLAs, the Palaniswami government had been reduced to a minority.
The ruling AIADMK has a strength of 116 MLAs exluding the Speaker but including S Karunaas (Mukkulathor Pulipadai), M Thamimun Ansari (Manithaneya Jananayaga Katchi) and U Thaniyarasu (Tamil Nadu Kongu Ilaignar Peravai), who had won on the ruling party's two leaves symbol in 2016 polls.
While 18 MLAs owing allegiance to Dhinakaran were disqualified, the DMK has 89 MLAs, its allies Congress 8 and the IUML one in the 234-member strong Tamil Nadu Assembly.
Dhinakaran, nephew of jailed AIADMK leader VK Sasikala, got elected from RK Nagar last year and he is the lone independent member of the House.
A court ruling adverse to the government would intensify the power struggle between the Dhinakaran, now chief of Amma Makkal Munnetra Kazhagam,and the ruling party led by top leaders O Panneerselvam.
(With inputs from PTI)