14 Jun 2018: Relief for AIADMK-government: Madras HC delivers split-verdict on MLAs' disqualification
The Madras HC failed to deliver a unanimous verdict on the disqualification of 18 AIADMK MLAs last year.
While Chief Justice Indira Banerjee upheld the move, Justice M Sundar disagreed.
The matter will now be referred to a larger bench.
The 18 MLAs had taken the matter to court after they were disqualified by the party for backing rebel TTV Dhinakaran.
Background: Understanding the conditions behind the disqualification
AIADMK has seen a dramatic power struggle since former chief Jayalalithaa's death in 2016.
Immediately afterwards, her close aide VK Sasikala took over, but her tenure was cut short when she was sentenced in a disproportionate assets case.
The party split into two factions led by E Palaniswami and O Pannerseelvam. Dhinakaran, Sasikala's nephew, initially sided with the former, but later turned against him.
Split: A split and the eventual disqualification
These 18 MLAs supporting Dhinakaran had written to then TN Governor C Vidyasagar Rao withdrawing support from CM E Palaniswami.
However, they had clarified they aren't withdrawing support from the AIADMK government.
Dhinakaran had claimed they would vote against Palaniswami in case of a trust vote.
Eventually, Palaniswami disqualified them on the basis of the 1986 Tamil Nadu Assembly Members Anti-Defection Law.
Implication: What it means for the ruling AIADMK government
The disqualification verdict can have major implications. If it's upheld, there would be no threat, since AIADMK's strength in the 234-member assembly will come to 215.
But it'd necessitate bypolls in 18 seats, which could hit it hard.
However, if it's cancelled, the government could collapse. Recently, three lawmakers extended support do Dhinakaran, bringing AIADMK's numbers down to 113, four short of a majority.