DMK to challenge Tamil Nadu trust vote at Madras High Court

Two days after AIADMK leader Edappadi Palaniswami managed to win a confidence vote in the Tamil Nadu Assembly amidst ruckus created by the DMK after Speaker P Dhanapal refused the demand for a secret ballot, the party today moved the Madras High Court challenging the validity of the trust vote, alleging it was stage-managed as per a pre-planned strategy.

Soon after the court assembled on Monday morning, senior advocate and former DMK Rajya Sabha member R Shanmugasundaram mentioned the matter before the first bench and sought urgent hearing.

The bench of acting Chief Justice Huluvadi G Ramesh and Justice R Mahadevan asked him to file the petition, so that it could be heard on Tuesday.

In its petition, the DMK is expected to seek declaration of the vote count as null and void, and order fresh voting under secret ballot system, since the validity of the trust vote is an important matter of constitutional law.

Palaniswami with backing from Sasikala and her supporters won the trust vote after the acting chief minister O Panneerselvam resigned although he later put up a show of resistance against AIADMK general secretary Sasikala.

The trust vote, however, was conducted amidst unruly scenes in the Tamil Nadu assembly during which MLs threw chairs and heckled the speaker in protest against the manner in which the election was conducted.

The MLAs, who had been sheltered at a resort for over a week, were brought straight to the assembly for voting, without giving them a chance to interact with their constituencies or other MLAs. 

The House witnessed violent protest by leaders of opposition DMK who were seen heckling Speaker P Dhanapala. The media was barred from covering the proceedings.

The session was adjourned twice by the Speaker because of ruckus and DMK members were expelled from the assembly. As the marshals tried to escort them out of the assembly, the situation turned more violent. Later, the DMK leaders tried to sit on a hunger strike at Marina Beach.

The party, along with Congress and O Panneerselvam, demanded that the trust vote be organised by a secret ballot but Speaker Dhanapala rejected the demand.

On Monday, governor Vidyasagar Rao sought a factual report from the assembly secretary on the unsavoury incidents witnessed in the assembly.

It has become clear that the first of the PILs bringing the Tamil Nadu assembly proceedings on Saturday under judicial scrutiny will be taken up for hearing on Tuesday.