The Delhi High Court on Thursday dismissed the pleas of TTV Dhinakaran and VK Sasikala challenging the Election Commission’s order granting the AIADMK name and two leaves symbol to the faction led by Tamil Nadu Chief Minister E K Palaniswami, saying that the figures before showed the Palaniswami-led group “enjoyed a clear majority”.
A bench of justices G S Sistani and Sangita Dhingra Sehgal upheld the EC’s decision of November 23, 2017, saying that none of the grounds of challenge raised by the Dhinakaran-Sasikala faction were made out and there was “no infirmity” in the poll panel’s order allotting the party name and symbol to the group led by Palaniswami and his deputy O Panneerselvam.
After the order was pronounced, senior advocate Abhishek M Singhvi, appearing for Dhinakaran and Sasikala, urged the bench to direct the EC not to allot the pressure cooker symbol to anyone during the next 15 days so that they have time to move the Supreme Court and seek appropriate relief from there.
The EC, thereafter, agreed not to allow the ‘pressure cooker’ symbol to anyone for the next 15 days in Tamil Nadu and Puducherry.
Dhinakaran had floated Amma Makkal Munnetra Kazhagam (AMMK) after he and Sasikala were expelled from the Palaniswami-led AIADMK.
The symbol issue has been lingering since April 2017 and the verdict comes as a shot in the arm for the Palanisami-led AIADMK ahead of the Lok Sabha polls.
Palaniswami on Thursday hailed the verdict, saying that it showed they are the “true AIADMK”.
Dhinakaran’s AMMK said the verdict was expected but vowed to put up a good show in the Lok Sabha polls.
The Dhinakaran-Sasikala faction had contended before the court that EC while trying to ascertain who enjoyed the majority support, ought to have considered the views of the primary members in the party as well and not just its organisational and legislative wings.
Rejecting the argument, the bench in its 69-page judgment said that the petitioners (Dhinakaran and Sasikala) had before the EC claimed that the organizational and legislative wings best represented the wishes of the primary members and “subsequently, changed their stand when the members of such wings changed their allegiance”.
“In view of the aforegoing stand taken by the petitioners, we do not think it lies in the mouth of the petitioners to now turn around and contend to the contrary.
Thus, where the General Council is representative of the entire party, a referendum is neither called for nor preferable,” it said.
The court, referring to the numbers of General Council members, Members of Parliament and MLAs in support of both factions, said “the aforegoing figures show a clear majority enjoyed by the faction led by the respondents (Palaniswami-Panneerselvam)”.
It was contended on behalf of Dhinakaran-Sasikala faction that 325 affidavits filed before EC in support of the other group were “fabricated”.
However, this contention was also rejected by the bench which said that even if the number was accepted, the petitioners’ group would not enjoy majority.
“Thus, at this juncture, it would be useless to remand the matter back to the Commission. Accordingly, the contention must be rejected,” the bench said.
Dhinakaran and Sasikala had further contended that the procedure adopted by the Commission amounted to malice in law as it had granted numerous extensions to the other side to produce further documents.
The high court rejected this argument as well, saying that such extensions were granted to both sides.
“Hence, we do not find that the Commission had unfavourably preferred one faction to the detriment of the other constituting ‘malice in law’,” it said.
“Consequently, none of the grounds urged by the petitioners are made out. We find no infirmity in the order of the Commission warranting interference by this court. All petitions are, accordingly, dismissed,” the bench said.