Do AIADMK bylaws allow appointing interim general secretary, Madras HC asks Sasikala 

Justices R. Subramanian and N. Senthilkumar commence final hearing on an appeal suit filed by her against the refusal of a city civil court to declare her removal from the post of interim general secretary as illegal 

Updated - November 03, 2023 01:54 pm IST

Published - November 03, 2023 12:50 am IST - CHENNAI

File picture of former interim general secretary of AIADMK, V.K. Sasikala

File picture of former interim general secretary of AIADMK, V.K. Sasikala | Photo Credit: M. Vedhan

The Madras High Court on Thursday, November 2, 2023 commenced the final hearing on an appeal suit filed by former Chief Minister Jayalalithaa’s aide V.K. Sasikala in 2022 against the refusal of an additional city civil court to declare as illegal and void a resolution passed by the AIADMK general council on September 12, 2017, removing her from the post of the party’s interim general secretary.

A Division Bench of Justices R. Subramanian and N. Senthilkumar heard marathon arguments from senior counsel G. Rajagopal for the appellant and senior counsel Vijay Narayan for the incumbent general secretary, Edappadi K. Palaniswami, for the entire day and decided to continue the hearing on Friday.

Mr. Rajagopal told the Bench that the party’s former general secretary, Jayalalithaa, died on December 5, 2016. Hence, the then presidium chairman, E. Madhusudhanan (since dead), called a general council meeting on December 29, 2016, when Ms. Sasikala was unanimously elected as the interim general secretary. She, in turn, appointed T.T.V. Dhinakaran, who now leads the Amma Makkal Munnetra Kazhagam, as the deputy general secretary. However, on September 12, 2017, a general council meeting was convened without due procedures being followed and an unlawful resolution was passed to remove her from the post, he said.

When Justice Subramanian wanted to know whether the bylaws of the AIADMK specifically provide for appointment of an interim general secretary, the senior counsel said the power was inherent in the general council since the party required someone to lead it following the death of the general secretary. “We know that one has to breathe to live but to breathe, you require lungs. The party’s bylaws are the lungs. We want to know which provision of the bylaws authorises the general council to appoint an interim general secretary. Under what power were you appointed as interim general secretary,” the senior judge questioned.

Mr. Rajagopal responded that all general council members, including the present defendants in the suit, had appointed her to the post unanimously and the resolution passed by them was also acted upon. “It is not their case that it was not acted upon. Hence, they are estopped from contending that I am [Ms. Sasikala] not the interim general secretary,” he said.

To this, Justice Subramanian said: “If 10 persons join together and say Mr. G. Rajagopal is appointed as the President of India, will you become the President of India? There is no question of appointing an interim general secretary if the party’s constitution does not contemplate such an appointment. Even if all members appoint you as interim general secretary, that will not make it legal unless there is a provision providing for such a post.”

Subsequently, when Mr. Narayan commenced his arguments, the judge asked why couldn’t Ms. Sasikala maintain the suit in her capacity as a primary member of the party, if not as an interim general secretary, since she was admittedly a primary member in 2017 when the suit was filed before an additional city civil court.

The senior counsel replied that much water had flowed since 2017 with the leadership of the party having undergone drastic changes and those changes having been recognised by courts as well as the Election Commission of India. Hence, the prayers sought by her in the 2017 suit had become infructuous and nothing survived to be adjudicated now, he said.

He also argued that Ms. Sasikala would have to file a fresh suit and her present suit could not be entertained by taking into consideration the events that had unfolded in the last six years. Since his arguments were yet to be concluded, the judges decided to continue the hearing on Friday.

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