February 27, 2017 9:26:10 pm
The Madras High Court on Monday directed the Tamil Nadu Assembly Secretary to produce the video recording of the entire House proceedings on the day of the confidence vote which was adopted amid unruly scenes. The court gave the direction while issuing notice to Assembly Speaker P Dhanapal and Chief Minister K Palaniswami and others on a PIL by opposition DMK seeking to declare the confidence vote adopted on February 18 as null and void.
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The trust vote was won by Palaniswami by a 122-11 margin in the 234-member Assembly after the eviction of DMK MLAs and a walkout by its allies, amid stormy scenes during which mikes were uprooted, chairs toppled and sheets of papers torn. The video recording of the House proceedings on February 18 must be from the commencement till the end, the court said.
The court had on February 22 directed the DMK to produce video clippings or any other recordings to substantiate its claim that the trust vote won by Palaniswami ministry was held in contravention of the assembly rules. When the petition filed by DMK Working President M K Stalin came up for hearing today, counsel R Shanmugasundaram informed the court that the petitioner had written to the Assembly Secretary seeking unedited video recordings of the entire House proceedings on February 18.
However, they were informed that the video could be produced only if there was an official notice (from the court), he submitted. The Bench then directed the Assembly Secretary to produce the video recordings of the House proceedings and posted the matter to March 10. It also directed the petitioner to delete the name of former chief minister O Panneerselvam as a respondent.
The bench issued notice to the other respondents — the Assembly Speaker, the Chief Minister, Secretary to the Governor’s Secretariat, Assembly Secretary and Union Home Secretary. In the petition, DMK had contended that the party MLAs were “illegally evicted” from the assembly when they sought a secret ballot on the vote of confidence moved by Palaniswami. DMK’s counsel also submitted that being the Leader of the Opposition in the Assembly, Stalin could not furnish evidence available in public arena, since it was not certified by authorities concerned as required under Section 65 of the Evidence Act.
Two other PILs filed against the trust vote also came up for hearing today. Petitioner K Ravi, an advocate, argued that there were at least five “key violations” including issuing of a whip by Government Chief Whip asking AIADMK MLAs to vote in support of the motion, the MLAs being brought to the assembly in 30 vehicles accompanied by people for whom they were supposed to vote and the eviction of DMK members. These would show “all was not well” with the assembly proceedings, he said.
Senior counsel N L Rajah, who appeared for other petitioner Advocate Forum for Social Justice, argued that the decision of the Assembly Speaker not to allow secret ballot was against the verdict of Supreme Court in the Jagadambika Paul vs Kalyan Singh case, where secret ballot was held. He further argued that the voting done after evicting all the Opposition MLAs was ‘irrational’.
He submitted that before eviction, each MLA should have been individually named. The en masse eviction was violative of Rule 120 and 121 of Assembly Business rules, he claimed. The counsel also contended that the confidence motion was moved twice on the day which was against Rule 100.
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