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Sacked MLAs' counsel says party is supreme, not leader
Making submissions in the Madras High Court, senior counsel for the 18 disqualified AIADMK MLAs said dissenting against a leader of a political party would neither amount to giving up the party membership nor attract disqualification from the Assembly.
Opposing Tamil Nadu Assembly Speaker's decision to disqualify the MLAs, senior counsel Mohan Parasaran said, "The political party must be considered supreme not any leader of such party. MLAs dissenting against such leader would not amount to leaving the party and attract disqualification".
The submission was made before Justice M Sathyanarayanan during a hearing of pleas challenging the disqualification of the MLAs loyal to sidelined leader TTV Dhinakaran by the Speaker on September 18 last. As the counsel submitted that he would require one more day to conclude his arguments, the judge posted the pleas tomorrow for further hearing.
Earlier, justifying the decision of the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam's (AIADMK) chief whip in recommending disqualification of the 18 rebel MLAs, senior counsel Mukul Rohatgi submitted that the whip was compelled since the legislators acted against the party's decision. He said the whip was also justified in sparing S T K Jakkaiyan form disqualification since he withdrew his complaint made to the Governor, and it was informed in writing to the Speaker.
Justice Sathyanarayanan is hearing the pleas after a bench of Chief Justice Indira Banerjee and Justice M Sundar gave a split verdict on the matter on June 14. The 18 AIADMK MLAs were disqualified on September 18 last year under the anti-defection law after they met the Governor and expressed loss of confidence in Palaniswami.
In view of the split verdict with Chief Justice Indira Banerjee upholding the disqualification and Justice Sundar setting it aside, Justice S Vimala was appointed to hear the petitions afresh. However, the apex court named Justice Sathyanarayanan while declining to accept a prayer of the disqualified MLAs who raised apprehension of "bias" and sought to transfer the matter to the apex court.
Interim ban on quarrying of ‘savudu sand’
Madurai Bench of Madras High Court on Thursday ordered an interim ban on sand quarries in Veeracholan, Anaikulam, Sethupuram and Chockampatti in Tiruchuli taluk, Virudhunagar district. Pichai of Samanatham, Virudhunagar district filed a public interest litigation petition before a Division Bench of Justices M M Sundaresh and N Sathish Kumar seeking intervention of the court to check irregularities in the sand mining at these villages. The petitioner claimed that river sand was being mined illegally in the pretext of lifting ‘savudu sand’ (soil available in the upper layer of the earth) on the riverbanks of Gundaru. Some people from Chockampatti who leased the land for quarrying, illegally mined river sand up to a depth of up to 25 feet. Due to such unlawful activities, cultivable lands and groundwater were affected. Moreover, with the connivance of officials from Departments of Mines and Revenue, the illegally mined river sand was being sold, causing a huge loss to government exchequer. Hence, the bench should cancel licenses of these savudu sand quarries and take appropriate action. On hearing the petition, the bench passed orders to serve notice to Virudhunagar Collector and officials from the Department of Mines seeking explanation.