The Madras High Court today dismissed a petition by the opposition DMK seeking disqualification of 11 AIADMK MLAs, including Deputy Chief Minister O Panneerselvam, in a huge relief to the Palaniswami government which could have otherwise been reduced to a minority in the state Assembly.
A bench of Chief Justice Indira Banerjee and Justice Abdul Quddhose rejected the petition by DMK whip Sakkarapani, citing pendency of a petition in the Supreme Court on the powers of a court to issue directions to the Speaker of a state Assembly.
Palaniswami eventually won the vote 122-11.
Their disqualification would have brought down the strength of the ruling AIADMK in the 235-member House to 105 from 116, excluding the Speaker and a nominated member.
The opposition DMK with 89 MLAs, has the support of 8 lawmakers of the Congress and one of IUML. There combined strength stands at 98. There is one independent MLA and 18 seats are vacant.
V K Sasikala's nephew Dhinakaran, who launched Amma Makkal Munnetra Kazhagam recently and got elected to the Assembly from late chief minister J Jayalalithaa's R K Nagar seat, has been claiming that he had "sleeper cells" among the AIADMK MLAs who could pull down the government.
The ruling party would have faced a tough situation in the event of its strength depleting following the disqualification of its 11 MLAs.
The 18 MLAs loyal to Dhinakaran were disqualified by the Speaker after they met the state's then Governor Ch Vidyasagar Rao seeking removal of Palaniswami as the chief minister, a day after the factions led by him and Panneerselvam announced a merger.
The disqualified MLAs moved the Madras High Court challenging the Speaker's decision. The court reserved its judgement on January 23 and it is yet to be pronounced.
Reacting to the judgment, Palaniswami said he was happy about the verdict.