The Tamil Nadu government informed the Supreme Court on Friday that the Assembly Speaker has initiated action on the DMK petition alleging he did not act on a plea which sought disqualification of 11 AIADMK lawmakers who voted against Chief Minister K Palaniswami during a 2017 confidence vote.
The 11 lawmakers included Deputy Chief Minister O Panneerselvam.
A bench, comprising Chief Justice S A Bobde, Justice B R Gavai and Justice Surya Kant, took note of the submission by the State Advocate General that Assembly Speaker P Dhanapal has issued notice in the disqualification proceedings and disposed of the petition filed by the DMK.
The plea had sought disqualification of Panneerselvam and 10 others for having voted against the Palaniswami government when they were in the rebel camp.
It had contended that by voting against the trust motion, these MLAs violated the whip issued by the ruling party and hence attracted disqualification under the anti-defection law.
Senior advocate Kapil Sibal and advocate Amit Anand Tiwari appeared for the DMK in the case.
The apex court had earlier sought the Tamil Nadu government's response on a petition by DMK leaders while terming as "unnecessary" the alleged inaction for almost three years of the state Assembly Speaker.
Sibal, appearing for DMK leaders, had said that the disqualification plea was moved before the Speaker in March 2017, but even after a lapse of three years no action has been taken by him.
"We think that the three years delay is unnecessary (on the part of Speaker)," the bench had said.
"Tell us whether you are going to take action. If yes, then when and how," it had said, adding that the recent apex court judgement, delivered in the disqualification case of Manipur's BJP minister, was the law of the land and "holds the ground".
The bench was referring to the January 21 verdict by another three-judge bench of the apex court headed by Justice R F Nariman that held that the Speakers of Lok Sabha and state assemblies should decide disqualification petitions against legislators, especially those who defect, within a "reasonable period" of maximum three months.
Though the bench had taken note of the plea that the poll panel has been seized of the dispute pertaining to AIADMK and that MLAs had been changing sides in the state, it had said that nothing stopped the Speaker from proceeding with the disqualification plea.
During a hearing on January 24, DMK referred to the apex court verdict in the Manipur minister case in which the court said Parliament should "rethink" whether the Speaker of a House should continue to have powers to disqualify lawmakers as such a functionary "belongs to a particular political party".
The Madras High Court in April 2018 dismissed DMK's plea seeking to disqualify the MLAs, citing pendency of a plea in the apex court on the powers of a court to issue directions to an assembly speaker.
The plea seeks disqualification of Panneerselvam and 10 others for having voted against the Palaniswami government when they were in the rebel camp. It contends that by voting against the trust motion, these MLAs violated the whip and hence attracted disqualification under the anti-defection law.
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