Chennai, June 14: The Madras High Court on Thursday delivered a split verdict in the case against disqualification of 18 rebel AIADMK MLAs in Tamil Nadu by Assembly Speaker P Dhanapal. Of the two-judge bench, high court Chief Justice Indira Banerjee upheld Dhanapal’s disqualification order but Justice M Sundar disagreed with it. Since there was a split judgment in the case, it will now be referred to a third judge who will hear the case afresh.

As per latest reports, no fresh polls will be conducted in the 18 constituencies till the third judge is chosen. Reportedly, Justice Huluvadi G Ramesh will nominate the third judge for this case. Till then, no floor test or fresh polls will be held.

The 18 MLAs still stand disqualified from the Assembly till the court’s final verdict in the case. Reports suggest that this would be a setback for TTV Dinakaran, as the MLAs belong to the AIADMK faction led by him. This comes as a breather for the EPS government which has got more time to consolidate its position. Meanwhile, the strength of the House is reduced to 216 with the suspension and the ruling AIADMK faction remains in the majority with 116 MLAs.

The Indian Express has quoted TTV Dinakaran as saying, “Only God knows how the same judge (CJ of Madras High court) delivers contradicting verdicts on two similar cases (18 MLAs disqualification in TN & 3 MLAs disqualification in Puducherry).”

As far as the case is concerned, the court was hearing a batch of petitions challenging disqualification of the MLAs in September last year. The MLAs have missed several sessions, including the ongoing Budget Session. The Speaker had disqualified them after they reportedly showed lack of confidence in the government led by Chief Minister Edapaddi K Palaniswami.