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Cultivate the Capability to Accept Defeat Gracefully: Sorabjee tells Angry MLAs

A TV grab from inside Tamil Nadu Assembly. (File photo)

A TV grab from inside Tamil Nadu Assembly. (File photo)

With a thumping majority of 122 MLAs supporting the VK Sasikala-nominated Chief Minister Edapadi Palaniswami, Saturday’s floor test was a spectacle of ruckus and chaos. But with the eviction of 88 DMK MLAs by the speaker, the legitimacy of the floor test has come into question.

New Delhi: With a thumping majority of 122 MLAs supporting the VK Sasikala-nominated Chief Minister Edapadi Palaniswami, Saturday’s floor test was a spectacle of ruckus and chaos. But with the eviction of 88 DMK MLAs by the speaker, the legitimacy of the floor test has come into question.

Renowned jurist Soli Sorabjee, former Attorney General and the man who had advised Governor Vidyasagar Rao on ways to end the power tussle in the state spoke to News18 on the developments.

Q. The floor test was conducted only with a fraction of the House strength, all supporters of the CM. Is the Speaker’s decision immune from judicial scrutiny?

A. The Speaker’s decision is not completely immune, it cannot violate the principles of natural justice or if he does not allow people to take part in the floor test. But the wisdom or the correctness of the decision cannot be questioned by any court of law, except where the Speaker acts in a manner which is barring the principles of natural justice and fair play or where he does not allow people to take part. But none of that happened.

Q. Are there chances of the governor interfering with the Speaker’s decision by taking it to the home ministry and leading to a subsequent dismissal of EPS regime under Article 356 as it happened in 1988?

A. I think you are referring to the Janaki Ramachandran vs Jayalalithaa saga. No. I do not think it will be the case because it is not a healthy precedent to follow. I don’t think that will be the case and I hope that should not become the case here.

Q. Is the eviction of MLAs equal to suspension of MLAs from floor proceedings, and does it hamper the legitimacy of the floor test?

A. Where were they evicted? In fact the staff could not evict them. I think they were all there. None were evicted, and suppose the MLAs who engage in hooliganism like taking away the speaker's mic; doesn't that affect the legitimacy of the proceedings? Otherwise it would mean that these hooligans can hold the Assembly at ransom and say that because they have been evicted (as it should have been), therefore the floor test should not be complied with. Look we got to run our democracy in a rational manner. You must have the capability and capacity to accept defeat gracefully. There are certain grounds you can challenge the legitimacy but not on this ground.

Q. Are there any legal or constitutional impediments to the option of secret ballot box voting?

A. There are no constitutional impediments, but secret ballot comes into the picture when there is a question of the application of the anti-defection law. Anti-defection law comes in when a candidate from party A votes for a candidate put up by party B contrary to the whip. But that did not arise here, this was a question of the intra-party matter.

Q. Didn’t the speaker have an option to abide by the governor and hold the floor test after 15 days?

A. No, I think the sooner the floor test is held the better, and the Speaker has taken a correct call in this regard.

first published:February 18, 2017, 19:28 IST