Gutka row: Madras HC quashes fresh notices issued to DMK MLAs

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Chennai, Feb 10 (PTI) The Madras High Court on Wednesday quashed the fresh notices issued by the Tamil Nadu Assembly Privileges Committee to 18 DMK MLAs, including the Leader of the Opposition M K Stalin for displaying sachets of banned gutka in the House in 2017.

Gutkha (chewing tobacco) has been banned in Tamil Nadu since 2013.

Senior advocate R Shanmugasundaram, who represented the opposition MLAs, said Justice Pushpa Sathyanarayana quashed the notices issued by the Assembly committee.

In August last year, a bench of then Chief Justice A P Sahi and Justice Senthil Kumar Ramamoorthy, while setting aside the earlier notices issued to the DMK legislators, had however, granted liberty to authorities for initiation of the privilege proceedings afresh.

Subsequently, notices were issued for a second time in September 2020, on the eve of the then Assembly session.

Shanmugasundaram told reporters it was submitted in the court that the MLAs' intention was to highlight the availability of gutka despite a government ban and therefore there was 'no basis' for the notices.

Meanwhile, Stalin said in a Facebook post that the DMK MLAs had displayed the gutka sachets to 'point out' at its free' availability.

Referring to the Assembly committee issuing a second notice, he said the government 'could have shown the same concern in preventing the sale of gutka'.

He said that if his party is elected to power in the coming assembly elections in the state, the sale of gutka will be 'completely banned.' PTI SA APR ADMINISTRATOR APR ADMINISTRATOR