Two leaves, one pressure cooker and seven Senior Counsel
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Two leaves, one pressure cooker and seven Senior Counsel

Murali Krishnan

The court of Chief Justice of India was privy to a gripping hearing in the dispute between two factions of the AIADMK party.

The dispute between EK Palaniswamy faction and TTK Dinakaran faction had seven Senior Counsel arguing before a Bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justice AM Khanwilkar.

But first some background.

Ever since the death of party supremo J Jayalalithaa, there has been constant infighting between various groups within AIADMK. Presently, there are two factions, which are up against each other and are laying claim to Jayalalithaa’s political legacy.

One faction is led by Jayalalithaa’s former associate and close friend Sasikala and her nephew TTV Dinakaran, while the other one is led by current Tamil Nadu Chief Minister E Palaniswami and Deputy CM O Panneerselvam, referred to as the OPS-EPS faction.

In March last year, the Election Commission had frozen the traditional ‘two leaves’ symbol of the party and had allotted new symbols to both the warring factions as an interim measure.

Subsequently, after the groups led by OPS and EPS merged and became one faction, the Election Commission, in November, recognised it as the real party and allowed it to use the ‘two leaves’ symbol.

The TTV Dinakaran faction then approached the Delhi High Court by way of a writ petition against the said decision of the EC. It has claimed that it is the real AIADMK and that the order by EC was biased and given at the behest of the Centre.

In December last year, the Election Commission allotted the ‘pressure cooker’ symbol to the Dinakaran faction to contest the RK Nagar bypoll (formerly contested by Jayalalithaa), which it eventually won by a large margin.

TTV camp then filed an interim application in Delhi High Court praying that they be allowed to use a suitable name for carrying out its political activities, during the pendency of the writ petition.

It also prayed for allocation of ‘pressure cooker’ symbol for contesting elections during the pendency of the writ petition.

Justice Rekha Palli of Delhi High Court allowed the prayers and directed the EC to pass an appropriate order permitting TTV Dhinakaran faction to use a common symbol preferably “Pressure Cooker”, and also permit them to use the name of their choice, after giving them an appropriate hearing.

E Palaniswami appealed to the Supreme Court against this order of the High Court.

CS Vaidyanathan, Mukul Rohatgi, KV Viswanathan and Guru Krishnakumar for OPS-EPS

“They want a reserve symbol for a party, which is not even registered. The party is headed by a person who has been convicted. There is no urgency and yet an interim order has been passed [by the High Court]“, said CS Vaidyanathan.

Senior Advocate Rohatgi’s submissions were even more interesting.

“My party (AIADMK) is a registered party. It has a symbol. After the death of Jayalalitha, there was splinter. Now the High Court has allowed the splinter group to function within the party. So it is creating a party within a party.

High Court has proceeded to decide the matter just like a suit. It is completely illegal and unconstitutional.

He has been given a symbol of pressure cooker. So at the party headquarters two flags will fly or what? One flag with two leaves symbol and the other with pressure cooker”, Rohatgi said.

Meenakshi Arora, Ashok Desai, Amarendra Sharan for TTV Dhinakaran

“The petition [in High Court] was filed in November 2017. Pleadings are not yet complete. All that the High Court has done is pass an interim order.

In the interregnum, I am being allowed to use a different name and different symbol. All I ask for is level playing field. If you cannot give me pressure cooker, then give me ‘hat’ symbol”, Meenakshi Arora submitted.

“We are doing well with ‘pressure cooker’. Now they are saying they don’t want pressure cooker, but don’t give us ‘pressure cooker’, Ashok Desai submitted questioning the stand of the appellants.

Order

The Court after hearing the parties directed the Chief Justice of Delhi High Court to constitute a Division Bench to decide the dispute. It also kept in abeyance, the order passed by Justice Rekha Palli. The following directions were issued by the Supreme Court:

(i)The counter affidavit filed by the present petitioners before the High Court shall be taken on record and as accepted by learned counsel for the petitioners, no further opportunity shall be granted for filing a counter affidavit.

(ii) Rejoinder affidavit, if any, be filed by the respondents within two weeks hence.

(iii) The learned Acting Chief Justice of the High Court is requested to constitute an appropriate Division Bench, so that they can decide the lis in question.

(iv) The Division Bench so constituted is requested to dispose of the main matter by the end of April, 2018, as this matter requires immediate attention.

(v) The interim order passed by the learned Single Judge on 9.3.2018 shall remain in abeyance.

(vi) As we have kept the order in abeyance, the Election Commission shall not pronounce its order.

(vii) In case there is any notification for an election, liberty is granted to the parties to approach this Court.

 Read the order below.

EK-TT-Dinakaran.pdf
Preview

Read Justice Rekha Palli Order

Rekha-Palli-Order.pdf
Preview
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