The Madras High Court on Friday granted permission to the ruling AIADMK to file a civil suit for preventing the Amma Makkal Munnetra Kazhagam (AMMK) founded by R.K. Nagar MLA T.T.V. Dhinakaran from using a flag “deceptively similar” to that of the AIADMK’s flag. The permission is required under Order I Rule 8 of Code of Civil Procedure whenever an association or a political party wants to sue someone.
Justice C.V. Karthikeyan allowed an application moved by AIADMK, represented by its co-coordinator and Chief Minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami, seeking the leave of the court and directed the High Court Registry to number the suit if it was otherwise in order.
Accepting a request made by senior counsel Satish Parasaran, representing the plaintiff, the judge ordered that the plea for interim injunction may be listed for hearing on Tuesday.
Earlier, senior counsel P.S. Raman and advocate N. Raja Senthoor Pandian, appearing on behalf of Mr. Dhinakaran, said they were willing to file a detailed counter affidavit and oppose the injunction application any time. It was their case that the AIADMK could not claim exclusive right over the use of red, black and white colour combination since many other parties were using red and black and the AIADMK flag has only the bust of former Chief Minister C.N. Annadurai in white.
However, Mr. Palaniswami claimed that his party had been using the combination of the three colours ever since its inception by former Chief Minister M.G. Ramachandran in 1972 and that those colours had become synonymous with the party and its members.
“Just as packaging and trade dress of businesses, including colour combinations, acquire secondary meaning in the market” the flags of political parties create a unique identity for each party, he contended.
“The colours black, red and white by themselves have no significance. It is by consistent use of the same in the applicant/plaintiff’s activities over the decades that the applicant/plaintiff has given this combination an association with the party and its activities. In other words, it can be said that this unique flag and unique colour combination of black, red and white has acquired secondary meaning and goodwill among the people and voters,” he said.
Contending that permitting Mr. Dhinakaran to use the red, black and white colour combination in his party flag would cause confusion among people, Mr Palaniswami said the defendant “has, in various political statements, averred overtly or covertly, without any basis in fact, that he is the heir of the political legacy of the applicant/plaintiff and is attempting to subtly drive home this very same message by adopting the flag or unique colour combination of the applicant/plaintiff.”
The AIADMK also urged the court to direct Mr. Dhinakaran to pay damages of ₹ 25.01 lakh for having affected the goodwill of the party by using a deceptively similar flag.