Can Panneerselvam withdraw his resignation? Here's what legal experts say

Legal experts say it is possible; however, there are some conditions.

Published: 14th February 2017 12:57 PM  |   Last Updated: 14th February 2017 02:36 PM   |  A+A-

Chief Minister O Panneerselvam (File | EPS)

By Express News Service

CHENNAI: With AIADMK general secretary V K Sasikala made ineligible to stake claim for the Chief Minister post, one of the legal questions of that now revolves around the state is whether the Tamil Nadu governor Ch Vidyasagar Rao can allow caretaker Chief Minister O Panneerselvam to withdraw his resignation.

Since his meditation last Tuesday night at former Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa's memorial, O Panneerselvam has hinted that he would withdraw his resignation as the Chief Minister of the state. But is it legally permissible?

Legal experts say it is possible; however, there are some conditions.

A few former judges and seasoned advocates Express spoke to said that there are three circumstances under which a Governor might decide to accept a request to withdraw the resignation.

"Fraud, coercion or undue influence or force. If the concerned person can prove that they were in such a situation, then the governor can allow them to withdraw their resignation. In this case, Panneerselvam has to prove that he was forced to resign," said T N Vallinayagam, a former Madras High Court judge.

As head of State, the Governor has all powers to allow Panneerselvam to resume his original position, "After withdrawal of resignation, if the Governor does not feel completely confident about Pannerselvam's
support in the party, then the Governor will ask him to prove majority. Only after that can Panneerselvam become the Chief Minister again," said Vallinayagam.

In case Sasikala's camp makes a representation to the Governor that they have elected a new leader for the legislatur party and that the new leader has the support of majority of the MLAs, the Governor will have
to ask both the camps to prove their majority.

A similar situation took place in 1984, when NT Rama Rao was removed from his Chief Ministerial post by Nadendla Bhaskara Rao (who took up the post) when he was undergoing treatment in the US, but Rao came back and proved to the Governor that he had a majority in the party and resumed his position.

Panneerselvam might have an edge in this case because according to legislative rules, a resignation must be personally given to the governor and in the handwriting of the one concerned, "Here OPS sent a fax and so it is not in his handwriting, neither was it delivered personally, so there is more basis for his claims of being forced to be true as there is less credibility in the resignation letter. So there is a chance that the Governor might reconsider," said a subordinate court judge, who did not want to be named.

However, senior advocate NGR Prasad said that in the present scenario, the Governor will have to demand that Panneerselvam show evidence of majority party support. "Both (the camps) are claiming that they had J Jayalalithaa's support and party support but we don't know what is the truth, the only way is to prove it," he explained.


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