Tamil Nadu

It’s for the AIADMK general council to decide on ‘single leadership’, says Supreme Court

Former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami. File

Former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami. File | Photo Credit: The Hindu Photo Liibrary

Former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami won a shot in the arm on Wednesday with the Supreme Court staying a Madras High Court order of June 23 which had restrained the AIADMK general council from taking any decision on the party's leadership question.

The order came on a plea by Mr. Palaniswami that the "vexatious and prejudicial acts" of his former colleague O. Panneerselvam had brought the AIADMK's functioning to a "standstill". He accused Mr. Panneerselvam of "disrupting" the general council meeting on June 23 when the issue of single leadership was raised by the party cadre. He said Mr. Panneerselvam had initiated court proceedings "so that the meeting will not go ahead and the party cadre will not be able to express their intention".

Staying the "operation and effect" of the June 23 order of a Division Bench of the High Court, a Vacation Bench of Justices Dinesh Maheshwari and Krishna Murari said "who wants to do what or intends to do what in a general council meeting of a party is essentially a matter within that party or compact... Can the court extend its jurisdiction to order what decision should or should not be taken in a general council meeting?"

The court said the question of "single leadership" of the AIADMK should be decided entirely in the general council. The Bench said it would not interfere in the conduct of the next general council meeting scheduled on July 11. Parties are however free to approach the Single Judge of the Madras High Court, who is examining civil suits related to the issue, for interim relief. Issuing notice, the Bench clarified that the pendency of the petitions in the Supreme Court would not restrain the Single Judge from dealing with the civil suits.

The Bench said issues of "friendship", power, etc, within a party or association should be worked out invariably on the platform of the party and the judiciary could not be seen to interfere in the inner functioning of a party.

"This was an attempt to stop the inner party democracy from functioning by a person who does not have even two per cent support in the party... Virtually they wanted the meeting to be stopped," senior advocates C.S. Vaidyanathan, Vijay Narayan, advocates Balaji Srinivasan and K. Gowtham Kumar, appearing for Mr. Palaniswami, submitted.

Senior advocate Venugopala Gowda appeared for Natham Vishwanathan. Senior advocate Siddharth Luthra represented P. Benjamin.

On the respondent side, senior advocate Maninder Singh, for M. Shanmugam, countered that the "dual leadership" methodology between Mr. Panneerselvam and Mr. Palaniswami had worked "without any difficulty for the past five years" and now the latter wanted to unilaterally preside over the entire party.

Senior advocate Guru Krishnakumar, for Mr. Panneerselvam, argued that though the issue pertained to within a party, the violation of its by-laws would attract judicial intervention.

Mr. Palaniswami had argued that the decision of the Division Bench on June 23, pronounced after a midnight hearing, was "flawed, fallacious, non-est and untenable in law... It interfered with the inner democratic working of the AIADMK, which is against the law and contradicts common sense and cannot be allowed to stand".

He contended that the "dual leadership" experiment under which he had shared power with Mr. Panneerselvam had failed, which was quite evident from the poll results. The party members had wanted him to take over and steer a "single leadership" mechanism. He said the High Court order had created a "power of veto".

Mr. Palaniswami, his petition claimed, has emerged as the "most popular leader of the party after overwhelming majority members of the party have comprehended the confidence in his leadership".

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Printable version | Jul 7, 2022 7:33:20 am | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/aiadmk-leadership-issue-its-for-the-partys-general-council-to-decide-on-single-leadership-says-supreme-court/article65606450.ece