Third judge to hear MLAs disqualification case today

Justice M. Sathyanarayanan of the Madras High Court is expected to begin hearing from Wednesday a batch of cases challenging the disqualification of 18 AIADMK MLAs on the charge of defection in September last. Appointed by the Supreme Court, he would try to resolve the stalemate caused due to a split verdict delivered by the first Division Bench of Chief Justice Indira Banerjee and Justice M. Sundar in the matter on June 14.

While the Chief Justice had upheld the validity of the disqualification order passed by Assembly Speaker P. Dhanapal on September 18, 2017, her companion judge had set it aside on grounds of perversity, mala fide and also non-adherence to the principles of natural justice. After delivering the split verdict, they had referred the matter to the second senior-most judge of the High Court for appointment of a third judge to hear the case.

No time frame

Unhappy with the turn of events, 17 of the 18 MLAs, barring Thangatamilselvan, approached the Supreme Court, which, on June 27, appointed Mr. Justice Sathyanarayanan to be the third judge to “hear the matter and take a decision as early as possible.” High Court officials here said that it would not be possible to evaluate the time that could be taken for disposal of the case by the third judge because it would depend upon the cooperation of the counsel.

A battery of senior counsel from the Supreme Court including C.S. Vaidyanathan, C. Aryama Sundaram, Mukul Rohatgi, Abhishek Manu Sighvi and P.S. Raman had appeared for the contesting parties in the batch of cases before the first Division Bench led by the Chief Justice.

And the hearing had to be adjourned on different occasions for longer durations to accommodate requests made by the senior counsel who had to fly down from New Delhi for every hearing.

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