The Chief Justice of Madras High Court Indira Banerjee on Monday agreed with a public interest litigation petitioner that it was not right on the part of 124 AIADMK MLAs to have stayed in a resort on the outskirts of the city during February 2017 when the entire State was facing a political turmoil.

She expressed her disapproval during the hearing of the petition filed by K. Ravi questioning the validity of a motion of confidence moved by Chief Minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami on February 18, 2017, and declared to have been passed by Speaker P. Dhanapal following a voice vote in which 122 AIADMK MLAs voted in favour of the motion.

Leading the first Division Bench along with Justice P.T. Asha, the Chief Justice lamented that the practice of MLAs staying in resorts during instances of political instability had become a common phenomenon.

In his arguments, the petitioner, an advocate, contended that the passage of the motion of confidence on February 18 would get vitiated on grounds that all the 122 MLAs were lodged in a resort before voting, they were brought to the Assembly as a cohort, they were issued with an “illegal” whip and there was complete pandemonium in the Assembly during voting.

Political ripples

The petitioner recalled that the Supreme Court had on February 14, 2017, convicted AIADMK’s then general secretary V.K. Sasikala and sentenced her to four years imprisonment. The judgment created political ripples in the State since she had planned to become the Chief Minister.

“The judgment was delivered at 10.30 a.m. and it would have taken at least 15 minutes for the judges to read it out.

“However, curiously, at 10.45 a.m., a group of 124 AIADMK MLAs, who were lodged in a resort at Koovathur on the outskirts of the city, claimed to have passed an unanimous resolution to elect Mr. Palaniswamy as the leader of their legislative party,” he said.

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