The Madras High Court on Thursday started hearing a batch of petitions including those challenging the disqualification of 18 pro-Dhinakaran MLAs by the Tamil Nadu assembly speaker.
The bench comprising Chief Justice Indira Banerjee and Justice M Sundar heard arguments by senior counsel Abhishek Singhvi who appeared on behalf of the 18 MLAs disqualified under the anti-defection law in September.
Justice K Ravichandrabaabu had earlier directed the court registry to place all connected petitions before the chief justice stating that they involved various Constitutional issues, including the powers of the speaker.
One of the petitions challenged the "inaction" of the speaker on a plea seeking disqualification of present Deputy Chief Minister O Panneerselvam and other MLAs of his erstwhile rebel group for voting against Chief Minister K Palaniswami during the trust vote in the assembly in February.
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In his arguments, Singhvi contended that the assembly speaker passed the disqualification order based on irrelevant considerations and ignoring the relevant which, he said, was "malice" in law.
He said while the speaker had not taken any action on the plea against Panneerselvam and others, he acted with a "rocket speed" on the government chief whip's petition and disqualified the 18 MLAs loyal to now deposed AIADMK deputy general secretary TTV Dhinakaran.
He alleged that the worst part was that the order of disqualification was made available to the affected parties only after it was first revealed to the media and then uploaded in the Internet.
Recording the submissions, the bench posted the petitions to November 20 for further hearing.