Tamil Nadu

Suspense over AIADMK meet to continue till an hour before it begins

The suspense over the conduct of the AIADMK general council meeting scheduled to be held at 10 a.m. Monday will continue till the last moment as the Madras High Court on Friday decided to pronounce its verdict just an hour before the commencement of the meeting.

Justice Krishnan Ramasamy decided to deliver orders at 9 a.m. on Monday after hearing senior counsel Vijay Narayan, S.R. Rajagopal and Narmadha Sampath for party leader Edappadi K. Palaniswami and senior counsel Guru Krishnakumar and A.K. Sriram for former Chief Minister O. Panneerselvam and general council member P. Vairamuthu respectively.

The lawyers argued the matter for over six hours and produced voluminous documents in support of their pleadings. Since each of the issues raised by them had to be considered and answered after perusal of the documents, the judge rejected the plea to deliver the verdict during the weekend.

In his submissions, Mr. Narayan said Mr. Panneerselvam and Mr. Vairamuthu had filed individual civil suits to stall the meeting on five grounds. The first was that the coordinator and the joint coordinator (co-coordinator) of the party alone could convene the meeting. Secondly, they had argued the headquarters office-bearers could not call the meeting.

Thirdly, they had contended a minimum of 15 days’ notice should be given before the general council was convened and fourthly, their argument was if the coordinator and the joint coordinator had become non-functional, the general council members who got elected at the instance of the two leaders would also become non-functional. The last argument was that there was no need for the June 23 general council meeting to have ratified the appointment of the coordinator and the joint coordinator.

Answering each of those arguments, the senior counsel said that when party founder M.G. Ramachandran died in 1987, it was the headquarters office-bearers who convened the general council. Then the notice was published in newspapers and only a three- day notice was given for the council to convene in which former Chief Minister Jayalalithaa was elected general secretary. “Exactly, 30 years later, history repeated itself and a general council meeting was called in the same fashion on September 12, 2017, after Jayalalithaa’s death [in December 2016],” he said.

It was the headquarters office-bearers who convened the 2017 meeting too, Mr. Narayan said, contending that a 15 days’ notice need to be given only for the regular annual general council meeting and not for the special meeting convened at the request of more than one-fifth of the members.

“On law, there’s no requirement of 15 days’ notice. However, on facts, we had indeed given 15 days’ notice,” the senior counsel said, pointing out that the announcement of the July 11 meeting was made in the presence of all general council members, including Mr. Panneerselvam, at the June 23 meeting.

Referring to party by-laws, he said the only requirement for a requisitioned meeting was that it should be convened within 30 days of the date of request. Therefore, since the coordinator and the joint coordinator had become non-functional because of the failure of the June 23 meeting to ratify their election, the headquarters office-bearers had called the July 11 meeting, he said.

He also asserted that the general council was the only authorised body to ratify the election of the coordinator and the joint coordinator and that their election on the basis of the executive council’s December 2021 decision would not have any legs to stand in the absence of such ratification.

However, Mr. Krishnakumar said the ratification by the general council was only a formality when the executive council’s December 2021 decision was fully acted upon by not only conducting elections for the posts of coordinator and joint coordinator but also informing the Election Commission of India of the results as per a statutory obligation.

It was Mr. Panneerselvam and Mr. Palaniswami who had conducted the intra-party elections only after they were elected as the coordinator and the joint coordinator; As a result of such an election, the general council members came into being. Therefore, it could not be said that the coordinator and the joint coordinator alone had become non-functional, he argued.

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Printable version | Aug 21, 2022 1:35:48 am | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/suspense-over-aiadmk-meet-to-continue-till-an-hour-before-it-begins/article65617213.ece