The Madras High Court on Wednesday ordered status quo as of June 23 in the AIADMK affairs, ruling as invalid the party’s July 11 General Council (GC) meeting, which had passed the resolution elevating ex-Tamil Nadu chief minister Edappady K Palaniswami (EPS) as its interim general secretary.
Dealing a blow to EPS, the court’s ruling gave a major reprieve to his AIADMK rival O Panneerselvam (OPS) as the latter was not only removed from the party’s top post of coordinator but was also removed from its primary membership by the EPS camp in the wake of the July 11 GC meeting.
Justice G Jayachandran’s order came on petitions filed by OPS and GC member Vairamuthu, which questioned the legality of holding the July 11 meeting of the GC, the party’s highest body. The court’s order said there shall not be any GC meet of the party without the joint consent of coordinator OPS and joint coordinator EPS. “There shall be no impediment for the coordinator and the joint coordinator on their own to convene the General Council meeting jointly to decide the affairs of the party including amendment of the party constitution restoring single leadership,” the order said.
The court also ruled that if the coordinator and the joint coordinator are of the opinion that, for any reason further direction is required for conducting the GC meeting or need assistance of a commissioner for conducting the meeting, it is open for them to approach it and seek necessary relief.
While the petitioners argued that the notice for the July 11 meeting was against the party rules as it was convened by persons without authority to do so under rules 19 (vii) and 20A (viii) of the AIADMK constitution. “An unsigned invitation dated July 1, 2022 by unspecified body who has no right traceable to the bye-laws cannot be considered as a valid notice for General Council meeting,” they argued, adding that the posts of coordinator and joint coordinator cannot be termed as vacant or lapsed by the efflux of time.
The EPS camp argued in the court that the mode of election for the posts of coordinator and joint coordinator that came into the party’s rule book by way of amendment pursuant to the resolution passed by the Executive Council (EC) lapsed since it was not ratified by the GC as per the party constitution. “Realising the said lapse, the Executive Council which met on December 1, 2021 decided to place the amendment before the General Council for ratification. But the amendment was not ratified in the meeting held on June 23, 2022. Hence there can be no other consequence other than to hold the posts of the coordinator and the joint coordinator as lapsed from June 23, 2022 for want of ratification by the General Council,” it said.
The EPS faction contended that it was always the party’s practice to issue a notice for convening the GC and EC meetings and that the 95 per cent of the party members were proceeding towards the direction of a “single leadership” for the party’s effective functioning.
The EPS camp also argued that the OPS faction wants to retain “dual leadership” which, it charged, was found to be “unworkable” and “detrimental” to the interest of the party and against the wish of the majority of its members.
Hailing the court’s order, OPS said the AIADMK’s “bitter days” were over and that its unity would be established soon. “I believe in dharma. So the judiciary, party cadres and the people of Tamil Nadu who stood for justice were on my side. Nobody can illegally capture a political party. Those who indulge in such acts will be rejected by people,’’ he said.
On the other hand, K P Munuswamy of the EPS group claimed it was not a setback for them. “The court has given an order. We will discuss with our cadres and leaders and then make a decision (about our next course of action),” he said.