It relates to Stalin and 17 MLAs displaying gutkha sachets in Assembly in 2017
Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly Secretary K. Srinivasan has moved the Madras High Court to vacate the stay imposed on September 24 on breach of privilege proceedings initiated against DMK president M.K. Stalin and 17 MLAs for displaying gutkha sachets in the House on July 19, 2017.
The applications are expected to be listed before Justice Pushpa Sathyanarayana on Wednesday. They have been filed before the single judge in accordance with liberty granted to the Assembly Secretary as well as the Committee of Privileges by Chief Justice Amreshwar Pratap Sahi and Justice Senthilkumar Ramamoorthy on October 13.
In an affidavit filed in support of the applications to vacate the stay, Mr. Srinivasan pointed out that Speaker P. Dhanapal had, suo motu, referred the issue of display of gutkha sachets in the Assembly to the Committee of Privileges. Accordingly, show cause notices were issued to them on August 28, 2017. The MLAs moved individual writ petitions before the High Court immediately thereafter and obtained interim orders against the proceedings. After a gap of three years, their writ petitions were taken up for final hearing by the first Division Bench led by the Chief Justice in August this year and the judgment was delivered soon thereafter.
The Bench, on August 25, held that the show cause notices suffered from a foundational error of assuming that the MLAs’ conduct of displaying gutkha sachets in the Assembly was prohibited under the law. It was pointed out that only manufacture, sale and transportation of gutkha had been banned in the State and the MLAs had attempted to prove that the ban was not being implemented effectively.
The Division Bench, however, left it open to the Privileges Committee to take a re-look into the issue and decide whether any breach of the privileges of the House had been committed otherwise by the MLAs.
Subsequently, the Committee deliberated on the matter and issued fresh show cause notices to the MLAs on September 7. The new notices accused the MLAs of not only displaying gutkha sachets without prior permission of the Speaker but also of having caused disturbance to the Assembly proceedings and setting a bad precedent.
Mr. Stalin and other MLAs of his party challenged the new show cause notices too and obtained an order of interim stay from Justice Sathyanarayana on September 24. When the stay order was taken on appeal by the Assembly Secretary and the Privileges Committee, the Bench led by the Chief Justice refused to suspend the operation of the single judge’s order.
It, nevertheless, granted liberty to the appellants to move a vacate stay application before the single judge and hence the present plea.
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