Disqualification On The Ground of Defection Can Apply Only To Those Motivated By The Lure Of Office Or Bribery, And Not To Disputes Within The Party, SC Told
Defending the conduct of the 11 Members of the O.Panneer Selvam faction of the AIADMK for voting against the Chief Minister’s vote of confidence in February 2017, senior counsel, Guru Krishna Kumar told the Supreme Court bench of Justices A.K.Sikri, Ashok Bhushan and S.Abdul Nazeer, that they did not join the opposition to bring the Government down.
Relying on the Supreme Court’s Constitution bench judgment in Kihoto Hollohan v Zachillhu and Others, Guru Krishna Kumar submitted before the bench that the disqualification imposed by Paragraph 2(1)(b) of the Tenth Schedule to the Constitution must be so construed as not to unduly impinge on the freedom of speech of a member.
The Supreme Court held in Kihoto Hollohan: “This would be possible if Paragraph 2(1)(b) is confined in its scope by keeping in view the object underlying the amendments contained in the Tenth Schedule, namely, to curb the evil or mischief of political defections motivated by the lure of office or other similar considerations.”
Guru Krishna Kumar thus contended that the 11 MLAs were not motivated by the lure of office or bribery, but only disagreed with the choice of the AIADMK legislature party for its leadership, that is, the then Chief Minister, Edappadi K. Palani Swamy, who sought the confidence of the assembly in February 2017.
Guru Krishna Kumar alleged that the timing of the petition filed by Sakkrapani in the Madras High Court clearly suggested that it was a counter-blast to the disqualification of 18 MLAs of the Dhinakaran faction on the ground of defection. Sakkrapani filed his petition in the High Court in September 2017, six months after the petition seeking disqualification of 11 MLAs was submitted to the Speaker. The conduct of Sakkrapani, who belongs to the opposition, DMK, therefore, clearly implied that he was fishing in the troubled waters of the ruling party, and not concerned with the upholding of democratic values, Guru Krishna Kumar argued alleging complete lack of bona fides on his part.
Guru Krishna Kumar, who sought some more time to finish his submissions, was countered by Kapil Sibal, who referred to his ‘admission’ that the 11 MLAs constituted a faction, and were not a party at all. “Its legal implications will be argued”, Kapil Sibal told the bench, who sought sufficient time to respond to the submissions.
The hearing will continue on January 9.