The verdict comes as a relief to the Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami government which was on a shaky ground and facing possible collapse
The Madras High Court on October 25 upheld the decision taken by the Tamil Nadu Assembly Speaker to disqualify 18 MLA loyal to All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) rebel leader TTV Dhinakaran.
The court was delivering its verdict in a case against the disqualification of 18 MLAs. The Supreme Court-appointed third judge, Justice M Sathyanarayanan concurred with Indira Banerjee, the then Chief Justice of Madras High Court.
The decision comes as a major setback to Dhinakaran. According to the judgement, the membership of the 18 MLAs stands cancelled, paving way for by-elections in those constituencies.
The Dhinakaran camp may, however, appeal to the Supreme Court of India to review the decision.
Speaking to the media shortly after the verdict, Dhinakaran said, "It is not a setback for us. This is an experience, we will face the situation."
Dhinakaran said that he would hold discussions with the disqualified MLAs before deciding the future course of action.
Hinting at challenging the verdict in the higher court, Dhinakaran said other legal recourses are available.
The verdict comes as a relief to the Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami government which was on a shaky ground and facing a collapse.
Earlier in the day, Chief Minister Palaniswami cancelled all scheduled meetings.
What was the case about?
The had issue came to the fore after VK Sasikala's nephew Dhinakaran had in August 2017 threatened to pull down the state government with support of 18 MLAs.
Sasikala was a close aide of former Tamil Nadu chief minister and AIADMK chief J Jayalalithaa.
The MLAs had met the then-Tamil Nadu Governor Chennamaneni Vidyasagar Rao, expressing their dissatisfaction with Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami, and saying they were withdrawing their support to the government.
In September, Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly Speaker P Dhanapal had expelled 18 MLAs under the 10th Schedule of the Constitution, known as the anti-defection law.
In June, a two-judge bench of the Madras High Court, comprising of Chief Justice Indira Banerjee and Justice M Sundar had delivered a split verdict in the case. While Justice Sundar had allowed the petition filed by the 18 MLAs against their disqualification, Chief Justice Banerjee dismissed it.
Chief Justice Banerjee had noted that the "view taken by the Speaker is a possible, if not plausible view, and I am unable to hold that the said decision is in any way unreasonable, irrational or perverse."
Justice M Sundar had disagreed with the chief justice on four grounds, including perversity and violation of Constitutional mandate.
Sasikala had installed her nephew Dhinakaran as the AIADMK's Deputy General Secretary after she was sentenced to imprisonment in the disqualification case. Dhinakaran was side-lined from the party when the factions loyal to Palaniswami and former chief minister O Panneerselvam merged.After winning the RK Nagar bypolls, which was Jayalalithaa’s constituency earlier, Dhinakaran formed his own political outfit called the Amma Makkal Munnetra Kazhagam (AMMK).