Advocate-General Somayaji submits before High Court

The paintings and the picture on the sides of small buses, introduced last month, cannot be characterised as a party symbol. They were similar to those “painted on green buses in foreign countries.” The small buses did not contain the symbol of a political party, Advocate-General A.L. Somayaji submitted before Justice K.K. Sasidharan of the Madras High Court.

He made this submission when a writ petition filed by the DMK for a direction to the authorities to consider its representation and remove the painting of “two leaves,” similar to the AIADMK symbol, on government undertakings/company property, including small buses, came up for hearing.

The party treasurer and MLA, M.K.Stalin, in his petition alleged that ever since the AIADMK won the Assembly election in May 2011 and formed the government, the State exchequer was being “abused and misused” for promoting the ruling party. The AIADMK symbol had been printed on one litre water bottles. The symbol had been painted on the sides of small buses introduced last month. The DMK was shocked and surprised to see that the AIADMK’s registered symbol was being used by the government machinery for the party’s benefit.

The petitioner alleged that the main aim of starting such services was solely for advertising the ruling party. The authorities, in defiance of public trust doctrine, were utilising the government funds and its property to ensure mileage for the ruling party. This would give an edge to the ruling party over other political parties in the Yercaud by-elections and the coming parliamentary elections.

Mr. Stalin said he sent representations dated October 27 to the authorities, who included the Chief Secretary and the Chief Election Commissioner, to issue necessary directions under the Election Symbols (reservation and allotment) Order to prevent favouritism and exploitation of government machinery and to provide a level-playing field for all political parties in the State. The Registrar of Companies was also requested to initiate action against officials of the State Transport Corporations. No action had been taken.

To a query from the court, the Advocate-General submitted that the mini buses were limited only to Chennai now. The buses would not be introduced in other parts till the filing of the counter affidavit to the writ petition.

Mr.Justice Sasidharan said he was not inclined to issue notice at present to the Chief Minister, Jayalalithaa, AIADMK, represented by its general secretary, and the State Transport Minister, V. Senthil Balaji, who had been cited as respondents.

The Government Pleader, S.T.S.Moorthy, took notice for the Chief Secretary and the Transport Secretary. The court ordered notice to the various transport corporations, including the MTC, and the Chief Election Commissioner and the Registrar of Companies, returnable by November 26.

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