Political unrest due to switching over of legislators is vibrant part of Indian politics, says Madras High Court


The observations were made while dealing with the allegation of DMK President M.K. Stalin and 20 other legislators that a breach of privilege proceedings were initiated against them in 2017 only to keep them out of the Assembly during a possible vote of confidence.

Political unrest caused by legislators switching loyalties, walking over of members of a House from one party to another and shifting their support is a vibrant part of Indian politics, the Madras High Court said.

“It has legal consequences, which are well known throughout all political circles and have been matters of legal determination for long in the Constitutional courts,” Chief Justice Amreshwar Pratap Sahi and Justice Senthilkumar Ramamoorthy said.

“The question is, can such political manoeuvrings in a democratic setup, where a government survives on numbers, be said to be an act of malice, when elected members exercise conscientious decision to support one party or the other,” the judges wondered.

Observations were made while dealing with the allegation of DMK President M.K. Stalin and 20 other legislators that a breach of privilege proceedings were initiated against them in 2017 only to keep them out of the Assembly during a possible vote of confidence.

“To attribute malice to such a transaction and hold it to be a foundation for a notice of breach of privilege may be a difficult task, as a breach of privilege and its complaint has to be examined only within the meaning of the words privilege and its breach.

“To import political affiliations and manoeuvrings as the foundation of malice in a privilege motion can be at best an allegation, but, in our opinion, it is difficult to determine in these court proceedings that the notice which recites only the bringing in and exhibiting of a prohibited item inside the House was actuated by such malice,” the Bench said.

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