The Madras High Court gave its verdict on the fate of 18 disqualified MLAs who were ousted from AIADMK last September.
Justice Satyanarayana has upheld Speaker P Dhanapal's decision to oust the 18 MLAs. They will remain disqualified.
The 18 MLAs had pledged their loyalty to Sasikala-TTV Dinakaran and expressed their doubts to the governor of having E Palaniswami as the chief minister of Tamil Nadu. Due to this, the speaker of the house, P Dhanapal disqualified the dissident MLAs on September 18, 2017, on grounds of bringing their own government down.
The MLAs contested this decision by the speaker in the High Court.
A bench comprising of Chief Justice Indira Banerjee and Justice M Sundar gave opposing decisions on the case. Banerjee supported Dhanapal's move while Sundar opposed it.
AIADMK celebrates their victory in Chennai
After the Madras High Court verdict delivered by Justice Satyanarayanan, the AIADMK party, loyal to Palaniswami celebrated their victory by bursting fireworks.
'It is not a setback for us' says TTV dinakaran after the HC verdict
"It is not a setback for us. This is an experience, we will face the situation. Future course of action will be decided after meeting with the 18 MLAs," TTV Dinakaran told ANI on Thursday morning.
Where do the parties stand in the TN government?
At the moment, AIADMK has 110 seats, DMK has 88 seats, Congress is with eight and MLAs loyal to TTV Dinakaran are five.
AIADMK says that the betrayers have been taught a lesson
AIADMK tweets its victory
Tweeting 'Democracy has won', the AIADMK celebrated its victory over the TTV Dinakaran faction after Justice M Sathyanarayanan upheld the TN speaker Dhanapal's decision to disqualify the 18 MLAs.
ஜனநாயகம் வென்றது.— AIADMK (@AIADMKOfficial) October 25, 2018
DISQUALIFICATION VALID: Justice M. Sathyanarayanan, Supreme Court appointed third judge of Madras HC, upholds validity of TN Speaker’s September 18, 2017 order disqualifying 18 AIADMK MLAs in TN.— AIADMK (@AIADMKOfficial) October 25, 2018
Speaker's decision upheld
Justice M Sathyanarayanan has supported Chief Justice Indira Banerjee's statement and has upheld the speaker P Dhanapal's decision.
The 18 MLAs will remain disqualified.
Now, the AIADMK government will have to hold bypolls for the vacant MLAs' seats.
Justice M Sathyanarayanan arrives at Madras High Court
Justice M Sathyanarayanan has arrived at the Madras High Court ahead of delivering the judgment which will have a big impact on the Palaniswami government.
Will AIADMK fall short of magic number 117?
If the MLA's disqualification is reversed, the AIADMK will come down to 112 while it needs to cross the 117 mark. It will fall short of five seats.
At the moment, the AIADMK has 113 seats, DMK, 97 and TTV Dinakaran camp is 22 strong.
MLAs currently in a resort in Courtallam
The MLAs, Thangatamilselvan, R Murugan, Mariappan Kennedy, K Kathirkamu, C Jayanthi Padmanabhan, P Palaniappan, V Senthil Balaji, S Muthiah, P Vetrivel, NG Parthiban, M Kothandapani, TA Elumalai, M Rengasamy, R Thangadurai, R Balasubramani, SG Subramanian, R Sundarraj and K Uma Maheswari have been shifted to a resort in the Kerala-Tamil Nadu border, according to Indian Express.
One of the dissident MLAs, STK Jakkaiyan is said to have joined the Palaniswami faction.
How will Madras HC decision impact EPS government?
After 18 MLAs moved to the high court, the Election Commission was directed not to declare the 18 seats vacant.
If the verdict is in favour of the speaker P Dhanapal, the seats will be declared vacant and by-elections will be held.
However, this will be a challenge for the AIADMK government due to its declining popularity ever since the party's supremo J Jayalalithaa passed away in 2016.
If the high court's verdict nullifies the MLAs' disqualification, the Palaniswami government will have a minority and TTV Dinakaran will demand a floor test to prove the EPS government's majority in Tamil Nadu.
Aftermath of last year's disqualification
On August 22, 2017, 18 MLAs went to Tamil Nadu governor expressing their lack of confidence on E Palaniswami being the chief minister of the state. Following this, the 18 legislators were disqualified by the speaker of the house, P Dhanapal.
However, they contested the speaker's decision at the Madras High Court. After this, the court did not allow the Election Commission to declare the seats vacant.
What was the split decision?
Chief Justice of Madras High Court Indira Banerjee supported the speaker's decision saying, "in my opinion, the view taken by the Speaker is a possible, if not plausible view, and I am unable to hold that the said decision is any way unreasonable, irrational or perverse."
However, Justice Sundar opposed Dhanapal's decision and said in a 135-page order that Dhanapal's order, "deserved to be set aside on grounds of perversity, non-compliance with principles of natural justice, mala fides and violation of the constitutional mandate".
Third judge to pronounce verdict shortly
After a split verdict four months ago by a bench comprising of Chief Justice Indira Banerjee and Justice M Sundar, a third judge Justice Vimala will deliver the judgment on the 18 MLAs disqualified under the anti-defection law at 10:30 am on Thursday.
She will decide if the legislators will get disqualified or not.