The Tamil Nadu Assembly Speaker overstepped his jurisdiction and disqualified 18 AIADMK lawmakers when a dispute over the party's name and symbol by rival claimants was pending before the Election Commission, counsel for them claimed in the Madras High Court today.
"When it is settled law that the Election Commission is the only deciding authority on the affairs of a recognised party under the RPA, the speaker has jumped of his jurisdiction and decided the disqualification matter even when the issue regarding party name was sub-judice before the EC," senior counsel Mohan Parasaran said.
He made the submission before Justice M Sathyanarayanan during the hearing of the petitions challenging the disqualification of the lawmakers loyal to sidelined leader TTV Dhinakaran by the speaker on September 18 last year.
He also said the speaker had taken a contrary view on two similar matters.
On the disqualification of the 18 lawmakers, the speaker had said the proceedings before the EC would not restrain him from going ahead with his decision.
In the matter of taking action against then rebel leader and now Deputy Chief Minister O Panneerselvam and 10 other lawmakers for voting against the trust vote sought by Chief Minister K Palaniswami in February last year, the speaker had said he could not initiate any proceeding against them in view of the ECs then interim order on the dispute.
Referring to the complaint filed before the speaker by seeking disqualification of the 18 lawmakers, the counsel said it was presented by the Chief Whip of the AIADMK despite the interim order of the EC restraining both the factions from using the party name or symbol.
Objecting the claim, senior counsel for the speaker Aryama Sundaram said even the 18 lawmakers in their representation to the governor had claimed themselves to be legislators of the AIADMK.
The EC had later recognised the factions led by Mr Palainiswami and Mr Panneerselvam as the official AIADMK, rejecting the claim of Mr Dhinakaran.
Justice Sathyanarayanan is hearing the petitions after a bench of Chief Justice Indira Banerjee and Justice M Sundar had last month given a split verdict on the petitions.
The 18 were disqualified as lawmakers by Speaker P Dhanapal under the anti-defection law after they met the state governor and expressed loss of confidence in Mr Palaniswami.
In view of the split verdict with the Chief Justice upholding the disqualification and Justice Sundar setting it aside, earlier Justice S Vimala was appointed to hear the petitions afresh.
However, the Supreme Court named Justice Sathyanarayanan while declining to accept a prayer of the disqualified lawmakers who raised apprehension of 'bias' and sought to transfer the matter to the apex court.
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