The first bench comprising Chief Justice AP Sahi and Justice Senthilkumar Ramamoorthy allocated another two days of hearing to enable all parties to make their submissions.
Senior Counsel R Shanmugasundaram, appearing for DMK, submitted that two of the 21 MLAs — J Anbalagan and KPP Samy — are no more and hence their plea becomes infructuous. Since there is no instruction from Ku Ka Selvam, who has been expelled from DMK, he is free to engage a separate lawyer, he said.
The arguments in support of the 18 MLAs revolved around the aspect that the whole process was botched with irregularities, malice and bias.
Pointing out that the MLAs, to establish that gutkha was freely available in the market, had displayed sachets and photographs of shops selling the same, it was argued that as per the rules, articles like umbrella and gun are not allowed while there is no mention of gutkha. Hence, the proceedings initiated thereafter stood vitiated on grounds of gross jurisdictional error.
Also, stressing that the issue was predetermined and wrought with bias owing to the prevailing political situation then, it was contended that issue was referred to the privilege committee on the instigation of Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami, who claimed disrepute to the government owing to the display of the packets. But claims of bringing disrepute to the government in office cannot be construed as a breach of privilege of the House, it was argued.
It was also argued that the Speaker who had initially claimed that such substances cannot be displayed without his permission, directed the formation of a privilege committee to investigate the matter after being prompted by the Chief Minister to do so, revealing bias.
CHARGES PUT GOVT IN DOCK
- Arguments dwelt on the aspect that AIADMK, which was doubtful of winning a floor test, played it safe by initiating privilege proceedings against 21 DMK MLAs
- The Speaker predetermined the issue even before the privilege committee could take up the issue, stating he considers MLAs have committed a breach of privilege, which per se tantamount to deciding on the issue
- The plea moved by Stalin and two others seeking to declare the passing of a confidence motion moved by the Chief Minister in February 2017 is also among the batch of pleas taken up for hearing