CHENNAI: In a big blow to the political fortunes of embattled AIADMK leader and former Chief Minister O Panneerselvam, a division bench of the Madras High Court on Friday dismissed all the appeals filed by him and his supporters challenging the abolition of coordinator and joint coordinator posts, revival of the general secretary posts and their expulsion from the party.
The bench consisting of Justices R Mahadevan and Mohammed Shaffiq delivered the verdict on the appeals filed by OPS, Vaithilingam, PH Manoj Pandian, and JCD Prabakar challenging the order of rejection by a single judge the interim applications seeking to stay the operation of the July 11, 2022, general council resolutions and restrain the party from holding the general secretary elections.
Regarding the legality of the conduct of the July 11, 2022, GC meeting, the bench said, “The Supreme Court has permitted the meeting stating the convening of the meeting is valid, and the resolution may be the subject of trial in a suit. The aspect of prima facie case for granting an interim injunction is automatically taken out.” Hence the grant of any interim injunction would amount to granting the principal relief as prayed for in the suit itself; it cannot be done while granting an interim injunction; such prayer is rejected, it said in the order.
Referring to the other resolutions on abolishing posts of coordinator, and joint coordinator, reviving the post of general secretary, and holding an election to the post, the bench observed that ‘any deviation from the judgment dated February 23, 2023 of the Supreme Court, in these applications, could be overreaching the judgment and is not permissible.’
The contention that res judicata against interim orders will not apply to the case on hand where the judgment of the SC is a detailed one relating to the same parties and on the same set of reliefs as prayed for in these applications, the judges noted.“Hence the challenge to these resolutions also failed,” they ruled.
The judges found ‘no prima facie case for interim injunction is made out’ by the appellants in respect of the special resolution expelling them from the membership of the party.
“We, therefore, hold that no case has been made out for grant of interim injunction.” Referring to the election to the post of general secretary, the judges concluded, “The appellants have been expelled from the party and there is no interim injunction against such action, and the election to the post of general secretary cannot be injuncted at this instance.”
They added that they did not find any reasons to interfere with the reasoning adopted by the single judge in rejecting the interim relief.
The bench reserved the orders on June 26, 2023, after the counsels for the OPS side and Edappadi K Palaniswami completed their arguments and filed written arguments.
EPS took the upper hand at the July 11, 2022, GC meeting by expelling OPS, Vaithilingam, Manoj Pandian, and JCD Prabhakar from the party and he was appointed as an interim general secretary before formalizing his coronation as the general secretary, the post which was held by late leader J Jayalalithaa.
OPS and his supporters filed plaints seeking to stay the operation of the resolutions and EPS’s appointment to interim general secretary post and the conduct of polls to general secretary post. However, Justice K. Kumaresh Babu rejected their interim applications.