AIADMK’s amended bylaws are still under challenge, says Election Commission

OPS files affidavit objecting to EPS’s application that ECI should take the amended bylaws on record ahead of the byelection to Erode (East) Assembly constituency.

Updated - February 03, 2023 02:06 am IST

Published - February 03, 2023 01:17 am IST - NEW DELHI

A view of the AIADMK party headquarters in Chennai. File photo

A view of the AIADMK party headquarters in Chennai. File photo | Photo Credit: R. Ragu

The Election Commission of India (ECI) on Thursday said the amended bylaws of July 11, 2022, which appointed former Chief Minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami as AIADMK’s interim general secretary and abolished the post of coordinator occupied by O. Panneerselvam were still under challenge.

“Bylaws dated July 11, 2022 were not taken on record by the answering respondent [ECI] as they are under challenge, including the manner and the process in which the amendments were passed in the meeting, in a number of litigations and counter-litigations,” the ECI said in an affidavit.

Besides, the ECI said, none of the litigating parties had ever raised the issue of existence of rival or splinter groups within the party, requiring action under the Representation of the People Act, 1951 and the Election Symbols (Reservation & Allotment) Order, 1968.

On the issue of ECI officials refusing to accept Mr. Palaniswami’s signature as AIADMK’s interim general secretary during the nomination process ahead of the byelection to the Erode (East) Assembly constituency, the ECI said the Returning Officer, as a “statutory authority”, has to exercise due diligence while accepting a candidate’s nomination.

OPS files affidavit

Meanwhile, Mr. Panneerselvam also filed an affidavit objecting to Mr. Palaniswami’s application that ECI should take the amended bylaws on record ahead of the byelection.

He accused Mr. Palaniswami of abusing the process of the Supreme Court and ignoring the status of the Election Commission as a constitutional authority. He said the applications filed by Mr. Palaniswami was a “manifest, repetitive, vexatious and a wanton attempt at badgering the respondents and the court”.

“The applicant [Mr. Palaniswami] is now trying to abuse the process of this court to get a direction issued to the Election Commission of India. If at all the applicant has any grievance against the manner in which the ECI has functioned, he must challenge the same in appropriate proceedings before the correct forum. The applicant cannot seek to achieve his nefarious ends by abusing the process of this court, especially after judgment has been reserved in the main matter by this court,” the response by Mr. Panneerselvam said, while questioning Mr. Palaniswami’s authority to represent the AIADMK in court.

The applications by Mr. Palaniswami and subsequent developments have come days after a Bench led by Justice Dinesh Maheshwari reserved the July 11, 2022 general council meeting-related disputes.

Mr. Palaniswami had complained that the poll body was not allowing him to sign the requisite forms and authorise the party’s candidates for the byelection.

The last date for filing nomination is February 7. The dates of polling and counting are February 27 and March 2, respectively.

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