AIADMK general secretary elections row: Madras HC allows polls but restrains results declaration

Court puts brakes on Edappadi K Palaniswami's plans to ascend to the post of party general secretary till March 24.

Published: 19th March 2023 02:18 PM  |   Last Updated: 19th March 2023 04:54 PM   |  A+A-

AIADMK leader Edappadi K Palaniswami files his nomination papers for the post of general secretary at the party headquarters in Chennai on Mar 18, 2023. (Photo | P Jawahar, EPS)

AIADMK leader Edappadi K Palaniswami files his nomination papers for the post of general secretary at the party headquarters in Chennai on Mar 18, 2023. (Photo | P Jawahar, EPS)

Express News Service

CHENNAI: The Madras High Court on Sunday allowed the AIADMK to go ahead with the polls to elect a general secretary but restrained the party from announcing the results until March 24. 

After hearing the arguments advanced by the respective counsels for the sides of former Chief Ministers O Panneerselvam (OPS) and Edappadi K Palaniswami (EPS), at a special sitting in the court, Justice K Kumaresh Babu passed interim orders to allow the poll process to continue.

However, he directed the respondents (EPS side) not to declare the results until March 24. The judge said he would hear the original suits and the interim applications on March 22 and pronounce the verdict two days later.

The election was announced in the wake of the Supreme Court last month allowing eps to continue as interim general secretary leading the party.

The interim orders appear to have put a temporary brake on EPS' ambitious plan to declare the results today when the filing of nomination papers ends and climb to the post of general secretary. He has to now wait till the final orders of the court.

The post of party general secretary was abolished after the death of J Jayalalithaa.

The poll announcement and the schedule were declared within a few hours after the High Court adjourned the hearing on the plaints filed by OPS supporters PH Manoj Pandian, R Vaithilingam and JCD Prabhakar to April 11.

The court, while refusing to grant an interim stay as sought by the plaintiffs on the resolutions of the July 11, 2022 general council meeting which elected EPS to the interim general secretary post, gave permission to plaintiffs to approach it if any urgency emerged. In the meeting, Panneerselvam and his aides were expelled.

The three supporters of OPS filed interim applications on Saturday and sought an urgent hearing of them since the filing of nominations would end on Sunday as per the poll schedule and the election of EPS would be formalized.

Justice Kumaresh Babu heard the petitions on a special sitting on Sunday.

Senior counsels PS Raman, AK Sriram, and C Manishankar, representing the petitioners, argued that reviving the post of the general secretary would go against the 1.50 crore primary members who had decided to maintain late Jayalalithaa as the "eternal" general secretary.

Amendments to refix the eligibility criteria to contest the general secretary polls go against the "spirit" of the party founder; and the short period (two days) for filing nomination papers "deprived" others from contesting the election as it is difficult to muster required support for proposing and seconding candidature, the petitioners argued.

ALSO READ | 'Pickpocket-like approach': OPS slams rival camp as AIADMK bats for EPS' ultimate elevation

Launching a spirited counter-attack on OPS' side, senior counsel CS Vaidyanathan blamed the former Chief Minister for waging a "proxy litigation" war to "shake" the foundations of the party. He said the three plaintiffs --- Manoj Pandian, Vaithilingam and Prabhakar --- had been expelled from the party eight months ago. He said they were "sleeping over" the resolutions of the general council in this regard but were now crying over "the deprivation of their rights."

"They are trying to scuttle the general secretary elections and stifle the voice of 1.65 crore primary members of the party," he added.

Vaidyanathan, arguing along with senior counsel Vijaya Narayan for EPS and the party, said the poll process cannot be stayed once it is set in motion and pointed out that the Supreme Court had held that courts "cannot interfere" in the internal management of a political party.

Meanwhile, following the Madras High Court verdict, AIADMK cadres at the party headquarters celebrated by distributing sweets. At the residence of OPS, the bursting of crackers happened for some time.

A party functionary from Thiruvallur who is a staunch supporter of OPS said: “Today’s HC verdict is akin to this: It allowed the performing of marriage but is not allowing its consummation.”

At the AIADMK headquarters on Sunday, party functionaries submitted more nominations in support of EPS for the post of general secretary.


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