Chief Justice Indira Banerjee upheld the disqualification, while Justice M Sundar quashed it. There won't be any fresh elections till the matter is heard by a larger bench
The Madras high court bench hearing the cases filed by 18 AIADMK MLAs challenging their disqualification gave a split verdict, thus maintaining status quo in Tamil Nadu for now.
Chief Justice Indira Banerjee upheld the disqualification, while Justice M Sundar quashed it.
The case has now been referred to a larger bench, CNN-News18 reported. A third judge will be nominated by Justice Huluvadi G Ramesh. Till he decides, no elections will be held in the 18 constituencies, nor will there be any floor test.
The judgment for this case was reserved five months ago.
The MLAs were disqualified after they had called on Tamil Nadu Governor expressing lack of confidence in the leadership of Palaniswami and seeking a change of guard. The MLAs had met the governor on August 22, 2017, a day after then rival factions led by Palaniswami and his now deputy Panneerselvam merged their factions after deposing Dhinaknaran as the deputy general secretary.
During the hearing of the petitions which commenced on November 16, senior counsels for the respondents including the speaker, the chief whip, and the chief minister defended the disqualification of the MLAs.
The crux of their argument was that the MLAs had approached the governor with the intention to topple the government headed by Palaniswami and thereby attracted disqualification under the anti-defection law. Senior counsels Abhishek Singhvi and P S Raman who had appeared for the petitioners among others argued that the disqualification of the 18 MLAs was a premeditated ambush.
The Speaker had passed the order based on irrelevant considerations, ignoring relevant considerations which was malice in law, Singhvi had contended. With Karunaas attending a recent 'mock Assembly' held by DMK, it is not clear if he continues to back the ruling party.
Thaniyarasu and Ansari seem to be sailing with the government. Bringing relief to the ruling dispensation, in April, the Madras High Court had dismissed a petition by DMK seeking disqualification of Panneerselvam and 10 other AIADMK MLAs for having voted against the Palaniswami government last year when they were in the rebel camp.(With inputs from PTI)