Gutka in TN assembly: HC restarts hearing on notices to DMK MLAs

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Gutka in TN assembly: HC restarts hearing on notices to DMK MLAs

Chennai: After a lull of three years, the Madras high court has recommenced hearing on pleas of 21 DMK MLAs, including party president M K Stalin, challenging a privilege motion against them for waving gutka packets in the Tamil Nadu assembly.
The first bench comprising Chief Justice A P Sahi and Justice Senthikumar Ramamoorthy has allotted three days (Wednesday to Friday) exclusively for hearing the case.

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On Wednesday, senior advocate for the DMK R Shanmugasundaram commenced his arguments saying, “We have objection for deputy speaker Pollachi V Jayaraman chairing the privileges committee of the Tamil Nadu assembly as he has recently moved a civil suit for damages against Stalin in connection with the Pollachi sexual assault case.”


He also said two of the 21 DMK legislators, J Anbazhagan and KPP Samy, had died during the pendency of the pleas and sought that their petitions may be removed.
“Similarly, Thousand Lights legislator K K Selvam has switched sides and therefore we are not representing him. We have no objections for him to have a separate counsel of his choice,” the senior advocate said.As to the challenge made against the showcause notices issued by the privilege committee against the 21 MLAs, senior counsel said the Food Safety Act, under which the notices had been issued, did not prohibit possession nor exhibiting of gutka packets or its pictures.

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“This apart, the rules of practice of legislators prohibits bringing items like umbrellas and guns inside the House, but not gutka packets. The notice has been issued riddled with gross illegality and in total disregard to the assembly rules,” he argued. Asserting that the court can review the decision of the privilege committee, Shanmugasundaram said, “Judicial review of acts of constitutional authorities are permissible when such acts constitute patent illegalities.”

Continuing the arguments, senior advocate N R Elango said, “When the notices were issued, a minority government was in the rule. Therefore, the actions of the committee were nothing but to strike a balance in the number of legislators in the house.” The actions of the committee must be judged taking into consideration the situation in that point of time. The attempt was clearly to remove 21 MLAs of DMK to match the number, Elango added.
Adding to the arguments on behalf of DMK, advocate Amit Anand Tiwari submitted that once the House viewed an act as a breach of privilege, then the same should be dealt with then and there. In such a situation, the speaker cannot refer the issue to the committee.
Recording the submission, the bench adjourned the hearing to August 13.

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