Chennai: The Supreme Court on Wednesday deferred the plea of DMK and TTV Dinakaran factions seeking a direction to disqualify Deputy Chief Minister Panneerselvam and ten other AIADMK MLAs for voting against the confidence motion moved by Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edappadi Palaniswami in February 2017, stated news agency ANI.

The issue was looked into by a bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi after the petition was mentioned for urgent hearing. In September 2017, the DMK had approached the Madras High Court with the same plea but it was dismissed by the court. According to DMK, the action of Panneerselvam and ten other MLAs in having voted against the whip came within the ambit of the Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly (Disqualification on Ground of Defection) Rules, 1986.

On June 14, 2018, a division bench of the Madras High Court comprising Chief Justice Indira Banerjee and Justice M Sundar had given a split verdict on petitions challenging the September 18 last year order of Assembly Speaker P Dhanapal disqualifying the 18 ruling party MLAs under the anti-defection law.

The court had said that the senior-most judge after the high court’s Chief Justice would handpick a third judge, who will hear the matter afresh. Following this, Justice S Vimala of the high court was appointed as the third judge to hear the matter. The petitioners had then approached the apex court seeking transfer of their pleas from the high court claiming that there was an apprehension of “bias”.

Notably, a vacation bench of the Supreme Court, comprising Justices Arun Mishra and Sanjay Kishan Kaul, had refused to transfer the case from the Madras High Court and said Justice Sathyanarayanan would hear and decide the pleas filed by these MLAs challenging their disqualification by the Tamil Nadu Assembly Speaker.

(With agency inputs)