NEW DELHI: In a major development, the Supreme Court on Wednesday appointed Justice M Sathyanarayanan of the Madras High Court as the third judge to hear and decide the matter pertaining to the disqualification of 18 rebel AIADMK legislators by the Assembly Speaker P Dhanpal.
The order in this regard was passed by the vacation bench of the top court comprising Justices Arun Mishra and SK Kaul.
"We consider it appropriate to assign the case on the difference of opinion to Justice M Sathyanarayanan. He will hear the matter and decide it," the apex court said.
The bench passed the order while responding to a plea by some of these disqualified MLAs who were seeking transfer of their petition challenging their disqualification by the Tamil Nadu Assembly speaker from the Madras High Court to the apex court.
The development comes days after a Madras High Court division bench delivered a split verdict.
On June 14, a division bench of the Madras High Court had given a split verdict on petitions challenging the disqualification of these legislators, a ruling that maintained status quo in the corridors of power in Tamil Nadu.
The high court had delivered divergent verdicts on whether the 18 MLAs deserved to be disqualified under the anti-defection law by the Speaker for approaching the Governor and seeking the removal of Chief Minister K Palaniswami.
The court had ruled that the senior-most judge after the high court Chief Justice would now hand-pick a third judge, who will hear the matter afresh.
Tamil Nadu Assembly Speaker P Dhanapal had on September 18 last year disqualified the 18 MLAs owing allegiance to side-lined party leader TTV Dhinakaran on the grounds that they had tried to pull down the AIADMK government in the state.
(With PTI inputs)