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Tamil Nadu Assembly Speaker P Dhanapal today justified his action of disqualifying 18 rebel AIADMK MLAs when their pleas challenging their disqualification was taken up by the Madras High Court. The decision was taken only because the legislators approached the governor before exhausting available intra-party mechanisms for redressal of grievances, senior counsel for the speaker Aryama Sundaram submitted. Sundaram made the submissions before the first bench of chief justice Indira Banerjee and Justice M Sundar. On alleged inaction against O Panneerselvam (presently deputy chief minister) and 10 other MLAs who voted against chief minister Edappadi K Palaniswamy's motion of confidence on February 18, the counsel said, the speaker could not act upon the complaint against them "in view of an interim order of the Election Commission of India (ECI) dated March 22." "The order prevented any action against the MLAs." "Hence no bias/malafides/perversity can be alleged on part of the speaker in waiting to act before ECI came to its conclusion regarding which group is the real AIADMK," he said. Justifying invoking of the anti-defection law against the 18 MLAs, the speaker said that the natural consequence of their demand to call for a floor test is the fall of the government. The counsel claimed that the issue was an intra-party dispute and submitted that the governor of the state cannot interfere in such issues. He also said the representations made to the governor by the 18 disqualified MLAs were based on a letter issued by dissident leader TTV Dhinakaran. The bench recorded the submission and posted the case to December 18 for further hearing.
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