The 18 dissident AIADMK MLAs were disqualified as they “distanced” themselves from their party and fell “into the control of persons outside their party” besides aligning with the DMK, Tamil Nadu Assembly Speaker P Dhanapal has held while holding that they had “voluntarily given up their membership” of the AIADMK.
In a 22-page order disqualifying them, the Speaker quoted judgments of the Supreme Court and other courts to justify his action under the anti-defection law and rules made under that law in the Tamil Nadu Assembly.
He gave his ruling on a petition by AIADMK chief government whip S. Rajendiran against the 18 MLAs allied with sidelined leader TTV Dinakaran that their action of giving a memorandum to the Governor that Chief Minister E Palaniswamy lacks their confidence amounted to voluntarily giving up their membership of the party on whose symbol they were elected.
“It is crystal clear that their act is unilateral and would amount to voluntarily giving of the membership of the political party to which they belong,” Dhanapal said in his order recalling various actions of the rebel group since giving a letter to the Governor on August 22.
He rejected their defence that they have not voluntarily given up their party membership and that merely meeting the Governor would not amount to giving up of membership or defection from the party. According to them, their act was completely covered by the judgement of Supreme Court in Balachandra L. Jarkiholi and others vs. B.S. Yeddyurappa and others (2011) case.
The chief whip had contended that the dissident MLAs had voluntarily give up their membership of AIADMK by making false allegations aginst the Chief Minister who was unanimously elected as the legislature party leader. They had also “embraced” a totally different ideology from that of the AIADMK by disassociating themselves from the decision of the party.
The Speaker cited an August 21 letter in which Dinakaran claimed that the Chief Minister had acted against AIADMK’s policies and joined hands with former Chief Minister O Panneerselvam and his group. According to that letter, Palaniswamy was facing corruption allegations and that most AIADMK (Amma) MLAs had expressed their displeasure against the Chief Minister.
“Accordingly, he had instructed the MLAs to meet the Governor and to withdraw the earlier support given to Palaniswamy. As per the said letter, the same would ensure that a fresh Chief Minister is selected from the party in order to run the government,” the Dinakaran letter said.
The Speaker held neither this letter nor the alleged intention of the majority of the party MLAs was mentioned the representation given by the MLAs to the Governor.
“The representation given to the Governor is not based on the majority of the party MLAs. If so, the majority of the party MLAs would have met the Governor and not 19 MLAs giving identical but individual representations,” the Speaker said.
“In fact, by claiming on one hand that they acted at the instance of the party and on the other hand that they are not part of the majority of the MLAs belonging to the party, the respondents are only subscribing to the fact that they are not part of the party itself. The above discussions would only lead to the conclusion that the respondents have in fact unidentified themselves with the AIADMK Party,” the Speaker’s order said.
Rejecting the contention of the MLAs, who cited the Supreme Court judgement in the case between Ravi S. Naik Vs Union of India and others on the scope of the expression “voluntarily giving up his membership”, Dhanapal said: “It has been categorically held therein that the expression ‘voluntarily given up membership’ has a wider connotation. That even in the absence of formal resignation from membership an inference can be drawn from the conduct of a member that he has voluntarily given up his membership of a political party to which he belongs.
“Applying the said principle, from the facts of the case and the admission of respondents in their written comments, it is crystal clear that from their conduct they have voluntarily given up their membership of the political party, AIADMK, to which they belong. There could be no other inference.”
He said in the light of the facts and the MLAs admission to have met the Governor and communicating they had lost confidence in the Chief Minister clearly would attract disqualification.
The Speaker also referred to a meeting the Leader of the Opposition M.K. Stalin had with the Governor after the dissident AIADMK MLAs and sought a floor test on the ground that the MLAs of the ruling party had withdrawn their support to the Chief Minister.
“I cannot view this as an isolated act or an unconnected incident. It is quite evident that the respondents herein have deviated from their loyalty to their party and have voluntarily taken the side of an opposition party.
“In my view even though the respondents have not submitted any letter of resignation to the AIADMK and claim they continue in the party, this act of them followed by the representation of the Leader of the Opposition cannot be lost sight of. It is quite clear from the sequence of events that the respondents are acting in concert with the leader of the Opposition.
The Speaker also dismissed the contention of the dissident MLAs that not enough time was given to them for adducing evidence in support of their claims. He dismissed their demand for cross- examination of the Chief Minister and others saying proceedings before him were not like a civil court.