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High drama reigned at the Madras High Court last evening as it witnessed the admission, dismissal on exemplary costs, appeal and the verdict of a politically-fueled case brought against a general council meeting called jointly by the two primary AIADMK camps, intended to be held today.
A suit was sought to be filed by AIADMK MLA P Vetrivel against the meet on the ground that the same would violate orders of the Election Commission passed earlier this year. Further, the plaintiff prayed that the respondents be permanently restrained from using AIADMK in referring to their respective factions for such activities.
Whereas Vetrivel was represented by Senior Advocate TV Ramanujam, Senior Advocates Aryama Sundaram and MS Krishnan argued on behalf of defendants E Palaniswamy and O Paneerselvam, respectively.
At a time when the two factions of the AIADMK were still warring with each other after the passing of erstwhile Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa, the Election Commission had held that neither faction could use the traditional AIADMK symbol of two parted leaves. They were however allowed to use unique names with ‘AIADMK’ attached to indicate their linkage to the parent party.
The two factions, however, united in a manner of speaking after O Paneerselvam, belonging to one faction, was recently appointed as Deputy Chief Minister to incumbent Chief Minister Palaniswamy, of the other faction. The two factions – AIADMK (Amma) and AIADMK (Puratchi Thalaiva Amma) – had called a joint general council meeting for today.
In his plaint, Vetrivel, who supports currently sidelined member TTV Dinakaran, sought to stay the meeting on the ground that the organisers could not call the said meeting under the banner of AIADMK. It was his case that the same could only be called by the General Secretary of the party, a position last occupied by VK Sasikala, who is currently undergoing a prison sentence for graft charges during Jayalalithaa’s tenure.
The plaintiff submitted that Dinakaran, Sasikala’s nephew, effectively stands in charge of the AIADMK party given that Sasikala had appointed him Deputy General Secretary prior to her imprisonment.
The unsigned notice given for today’s meet was submitted to be illegal, for the orders of the Election Commission effectively mean that the affairs of the AIADMK party are under suspended animation.
When the case was brought up before Justice CV Karthikeyan yesterday morning, the learned single judge dismissed the application for lack of any cause for action, and further imposed exemplary costs amounting to Rs. 1 lakh on the plaintiff, to be paid to the Chief Justice Relief Fund.
Justice Karhikeyan found fault in the plaintiff’s decision to name TTV Dinakaran as a defendant in the case. He termed it a condemnable practice wherein a “Should be plaintiff” is shown as the defendant so that he could effectively back-stab other contesting defendants at the opportune moment. The judge held that the same indicates collusion and, therefore, the entire character of the suit becomes vexatious.
The judge also noted that the plaintiff, by opting to sue in his individual capacity, had effectively circumvented the High Court’s circular which necessitated that any suit filed by or against any MLA/MP should be brought to the attention of Chief Justice of this Court.
Following the dismissal, Senior Advocate TV Ramanujam mentioned the matter for urgent appeal before Chief Justice Indira Banerjee. With the leave of the Chief Justice to file the matter before the appropriate bench, the matter was brought up again before a Division Bench of Justices Abdul Quddhose and Rajiv Shakhder.
The judges sat beyond court hours to hear arguments rendered by representing counsel, before upholding the order of the single judge declining staying the meeting scheduled for today. Whereas the passed order makes no mention of the costs imposed by the single judge, it has been specifically noted that,
“It is made clear though that any decision taken at the impugned meeting will be subject to the final outcome in the appeal.”
The subject matter of the appeal is likely to be heard next on October 23.
Read order rendered by Division Bench upholding Single Judge order here.