Yet to record EPS as interim general secretary: ECI to Supreme Court
In its submission, it added that the Returning Officer of the Erode East by-election, a statutory officer, would take a decision about acceptance of nominations by exercising due diligence.
Published: 03rd February 2023 02:08 AM | Last Updated: 03rd February 2023 02:08 AM | A+A A-
CHENNAI: The Election Commission of India on Thursday informed the Supreme Court that it has not taken on record the appointment of Edappadi K Palaniswami (EPS) as interim general secretary of the AIADMK in the general council held on July 11, 2022 due to the pending litigation.
In its submission, it added that the Returning Officer of the Erode East by-election, a statutory officer, would decide to accept nominations by exercising due diligence. The ECI affidavit has caused ripples in both the EPS and O Panneerselvam (OPS) factions.
While functionaries of the OPS faction were elated that the ECI’s submission “favoured” Panneerselvam, the functionaries of the EPS faction contended the ECI had said nothing new and that, going by the facts, the SC would decide in their favour on Friday.
The ECI informed the SC it has not taken on record the by-laws dated July 11, 2022, as they are under challenge, including the manner and process in which the amendments were passed in the meeting, in a number of litigations and counter litigations.
‘ECI affidavit cannot be taken as a setback for EPS’
Further, the litigating parties (EPS and OPS) never raised a dispute in terms of Paragraph 15 of the Elections Symbols (Reservation and Allotment) Order, 1968 triggering any action by the ECI under Section 29A of the Representation of the People’s Act, 1951 read with the Election Symbols (Reservation and Allotment) Order, 1968.
“With respect to acceptance of nomination filed by the candidates of a recognised political party, the Returning Officer as the statutory authority has to exercise due diligence for acceptance of nomination of a candidate duly authorised by the office bearers of the political party which is on record of the ECI,” the Commission added.
The ECI also pointed out that monitoring of elections within the recognised political parties, by the ECI, is only to the extent that they are conducted on time as mentioned in the by-laws of the party constitution. This legal position has been recognised and upheld in numerous judgments pronounced by different courts. OPS, in his counter affidavit, said the interim application of Palaniswami should be dismissed with severe costs imposed on the applicant.
He said if EPS’ fresh applications are allowed, it would seriously affect the adjudication of the main petition for which orders have been reserved. OPS also said the Madras High Court in its order dated September 2, 2022, left the question as to whether the posts of coordinator and joint coordinator have lapsed to be an open issue that is to be decided in the pending suit.
Already, Palaniswami had resigned as joint coordinator of the party and he had intimated this to the ECI. Senior advocate Tamilmani said the ECI’s affidavit cannot be taken as a setback to Palaniswami since the SC had not given any stay to the Madras HC order upholding his election as interim general secretary of the AIADMK.
Since the SC had accepted the judgment of the two judges, Palaniswami continues to hold the post. The SC’s stand is binding on the ECI too, Tamilmani said. IS Inbadurai, AIADMK’s legal wing functionary, denied that the ECI’s affidavit was a setback to EPS. He pointed out that the SC had not stayed the Madras HC verdict upholding Palaniswami’s election as interim general secretary. Further, OPS has not obtained any stay order against his expulsion from the AIADMK so far.
The ECI had not denied these facts in its affidavit. “How can a person expelled from the party sign A and B forms for elections,” he asked. “Since the ECI had already uploaded the audit reports presented on July 11, 2022, and submitted by Palaniswami. It is nothing but ECI’s recognition of him. Also, the Madras HC had ordered handing over of keys to the AIADMK headquarters only to Palaniswami.
Further, there is no vertical split in the AIADMK. In all, the ECI had contended that the decisions taken on July 11 GC were not uploaded to the Commission website only due to a pending petition before the SC,” he said.