Tamil Nadu

OPS got appointed through same procedure that he is opposing now, Palaniswami tells High Court

The procedure about which AIADMK leader O. Panneerselvam has been complaining now, with respect to the convening of the general council meeting on July 11 to elect an interim general secretary, is the same one through which the 2017 general council meeting was convened to elect him as the coordinator, former Chief Minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami told the Madras High Court on Thursday.

Appearing before Justice Krishnan Ramasamy, who is seized of a civil suit filed by Mr. Panneerselvam to stall the July 11 meeting, senior counsel Vijay Narayan, representing Mr. Palaniswami, took exception to the plaintiff’s argument that the general council meeting could be legally convened only by the coordinator and the joint coordinator [co-coordinator] together, whereas the invitation for the July 11 meeting had been extended by the “headquarters office-bearers”.

Recalling the general council meeting held in September 2017 to elect Mr. Panneerselvam as well as Mr. Palaniswami as the coordinator and the joint coordinator respectively since the then interim general secretary, V.K. Sasikala, had been imprisoned in a disproportionate assets case, Mr. Narayan said, “Even then, the invitation was extended only by the ‘headquarters office-bearers’ that he is now terming a faceless and nameless body.”

Also objecting to the invitation being called a notice by the plaintiff, the senior counsel said the decision to conduct the July 11 meeting was announced at the general council meeting held on June 23 in the presence of Mr. Panneerselvam. The announcement was carried as the lead news item by almost all newspapers the following day. Yet, the plaintiff had waited for almost two weeks and filed the present suit only on July 5, he pointed out.

Further, bringing it to the notice of the judge that the party by-laws require at least one-fifth of the general council members to requisition a meeting, Mr. Narayan said that on June 23, 2,619 out of the 2,665 general council members had requested for the next meeting and hence it was decided to hold it on July 11. He said the plaintiff had not made out any case to stall such a meeting.

Informing the court that a resolution for appointing only an interim general secretary would be placed before the general council on July 11, the senior counsel said the election for a permanent general secretary would be held at a later date and then the plaintiff would also be entitled to contest for the post. He also wondered how could the High Court [pass any order to] stall the meeting when the Supreme Court had permitted the meeting to go on.

On the other hand, senior counsel Guru Krishnakumar, representing Mr. Panneerselvam, and advocate A.K. Sriram, representing another plaintiff P. Vairamuthu alias Amman Vairamuthu, argued that the 2017 situation was different from the present scenario and therefore there could be no comparison between the two. “Then, the interim general secretary was in prison. Now, no such thing has happened,” Mr. Krishnakumar said.

He told the court that Mr. Panneerselvam and Mr. Palaniswami were elected the coordinator and the joint coordinator respectively of the party by its general council on September 12, 2017. Thereafter, following the Delhi High Court’s order that they must get elected only by the primary members of the party, the executive council amended the by-laws on December 1, 2021, and an election was notified to be held on December 6, 2021.

Since none but for the two filed nominations, they were elected unopposed for a term of five years. A resolution placed before the June 23 general council meeting did not seek any ratification of the executive council’s December 21 decision. It only read that the general council shall “record” the election of the office-bearers in the intra-party elections. Therefore, it is wrong to claim that the two top posts have become non-functional owing to the absence of ratification, he said.

Mr. Sriram too argued the by-laws do not mandate any ratification by the general council. He said no harm would befall Mr. Palaniswami if the July 11 meeting was stalled until the present civil suits were disposed of. On the other hand, allowing the general council meeting to proceed would cause irreparable prejudice to Mr. Panneerselvam who had been rightfully elected as the coordinator for a period of five years in 2021, he said.

After hearing both sides, the judge adjourned the matter to Friday and asked Mr. Narayan to submit details of the procedures followed to convene the previous general council meetings.

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Printable version | Aug 27, 2022 10:14:36 am | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/ops-got-appointed-through-same-procedure-that-he-is-opposing-now-palaniswami-tells-high-court/article65612235.ece