NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Tuesday sought the stand of the Tamil Nadu government on a plea of MLA K Pandiarajan seeking its direction to conduct a fresh vote of confidence through secret ballot on the floor of the assembly.
A bench of Justices Dipak Misra, Amitava Roy and A M Khanwilkar did not issue formal notice to the state government but directed the petitioner, belonging to former CM O Panneerselvam’s faction, to supply the copy of the petition to standing Council of Tamil Nadu government so that the state could take a stand on the issue on the next date of hearing on August 9. As the two factions of AIADMK — one led by Panneerselvam and other by the present CM E Palaniswami— failed to sort out their differences, the OPS faction pleaded before the SC to set aside the trust vote won by the CM on February 18.
Solicitor General Ranjit Kumar, who was asked by SC to assist it in deciding the case, also sought an adjournment for two weeks to prepare his arguments on the point of law raised by the petitioner. Pandiarajan, former state school education minister and one of the key leaders of O Panneerselvam faction, said the floor test conducted in February was not free and fair as MLAs were taken a hostage and forced to vote in favour of the present government.
“The proceedings were conducted in a highly arbitrary and partisan manner and in utter violation of democratic norms and principles of natural justice. Speaker’s decision rejecting the demand for a secret ballot to determine the outcome of the floor test was not fair. In failing to do so, the speaker has committed grave miscarriage of justice besides acting in violation of established principles of democracy and natural justice,” the MLA said in his petition.
It said that the MLAs were under “extreme duress” and their affirmative vote during the proceedings on the February 18 was obtained “under the threat of force, fraud and coercion”. On February 18, Palaniswami had won the trust vote 122-11, helped by the eviction of main opposition DMK from the House.
Source: Times Of India