Chief Minister K Palaniswami today defended in the Madras High Court the Whip issued to the ruling AIADMK MLAs before the voting on his February 18 trust motion in the state assembly. In his counter affidavit on a petition by DMK leader M K Stalin challenging the adoption of his Confidence Motion, Palaniswami also said the House proceedings on Feb 18 were in accordance with the law and sought dismissal of the petition. Countering the petitioner's charge that the Whip issued by the government's chief whip was akin to "an explicit threat" to MLAs, the chief minister said in his affidavit that the allegation was not only untenable but also contrary to the provisions of the Constitution's Tenth Schedule, relating to the disqualification on ground of defection. The court had on the last hearing issued notice to Chief Minister Palaniswami seeking his stand on Stalin's plea. The chief minister said the directions of the Whip have been given an 'elevated status' under the Tenth Schedule, where it has been stated that any member of a political party who votes or abstains from voting, against the directions of the party to which he belongs, may be disqualified. He said as per the Constitutional mandate, the Whip was issued merely informing the members about the agenda to be taken up on February 18 and hence it cannot be construed as a threat. Palaniswami also said the assembly speaker was the competent authority in relation to the House proceedings. He further contended that the February 18 proceedings were well in accordance with the law and do not give rise to any cause of action to maintain the petition within the scope of the judicial review and sought its dismissal. Palaniswami had won the trust vote 122-11 in the 234- member assembly aided by the eviction of main opposition DMK and walkout by its allies, amid stormy scenes during which mikes were uprooted, chairs toppled and sheets of papers torn. Stalin, in his petition, has sought to declare the Vote of Confidence won by Palaniswami as "null and void" saying it was conducted in 'contravention' of the assembly rules. The DMK and other opposition parties had unsuccessfully pressed for secret voting on the Confidence Motion, sought by Palaniswami following the revolt by his predecessor O Panneerselvam. The petition is listed for further hearing on May 2.
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