The AIADMK rebels are supporters of TTV Dhinakaran, who has launched his own party.
New Delhi: The disqualified lawmakers of Tamil Nadu will have to wait for a verdict on their appeal of reinstatement. The Supreme Court today turned down their appeal to transfer the case out of the Madras High Court, which gave a split verdict earlier this month and then referred it to a third judge. The top court has named a judge in the Madras High Court to hear the case. Reinstatement of the lawmakers, who are loyal to TTV Dhinakaran, is likely to jeopardise the government of E Palaniswami.
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A vacation bench of Justices Arun Mishra and Sanjay Kishan Kaul said Justice Sathyanarayanan would hear the case instead of Justice C Vimala, who was nominated by Madras high court.
The lawmakers had been disqualified in September by Tamil Nadu Assembly Speaker P Dhanapal in September after they met the Governor, said they had no faith in Mr Palaniswami's leadership and asked him to replace the Chief Minister.
Though they claimed that were not withdrawing support to the AIADMK government, the Speaker said they had tried to pull down the government and disqualified them ahead of a crucial trust vote.
The rebels appealed against the Speaker's decision in the Madras High Court. On June 14, the high court gave a split verdict in the case and a third judge, Justice S Vimala, was asked to take a call on the issue. The high court, however, gave no time frame for the judge's decision.
The lawmakers, who by now, have been out of the state assembly for 10 months, went to the Supreme Court, citing neglect of their constituencies. They also alleged that case will not get a fair hearing in Tamil Nadu, since the respondents were the Chief Minister and his deputy.
A victory of the lawmakers would spell trouble for the government of Mr Palaniswami, who will be at a numerical disadvantage.
Disqualification of the 18 rebel lawmakers has brought down the strength of the assembly from 234 to 215, in which the majority mark is at 108. The AIADMK has 116 lawmakers besides the Speaker. Recently, three other lawmakers shifted allegiance to Mr Dhinakaran, further shrinking Mr Palaniswami's numbers.
The power struggle within the AIADMK that started after the death of Jayalalithaa, has now come to rest between TTV Dhinakaran -- nephew of VK Sasikala. A longtime companion of Jayalalithaa, VK Sasikala is serving a jail term in a corruption case.
TTV Dhinakaran, who became the number 2 in the party when VK Sasikala was its chief, was ousted after she was jailed and Mr Palaniswami and O Panneerselvam joined forces.
But he staged a huge comeback with a victory in the by-elections in RK Nagar - the prestigious seat in Chennai represented in assembly by Jayalalithaa. After the victory, 18 lawmakers from the AIADMK declared allegiance to Mr Dhinakaran, who formed his own political party. Of them, 17 had approached the Supreme Court requesting transfer of the case.