Monday, September 25, 2023

Delhi High Court directs Election Commission to decide on AIADMK plea taking on record party’s amended by-laws in 10 days

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The Delhi High Court has ordered the Election Commission of India (ECI) for deciding the AIADMK’s representations asking the poll body to take on record the amended by-laws of the party within 10 days.

In July 2022, the AIADMK had amended its by-laws and expelled the former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister O Panneerselvam from the party while appointing E Palaniswamy as the General Secretary.

The order was passed by Justice Purushaindra Kumar Kaurav  after Advocate Siddhant Kumar said that the ECI is considering the representation and will take a final decision on the same within ten days.

Mukul Rohatgi who appeared for AIADMK stated that the Commission may consider passing the order by Monday so that the party’s candidates can take part in the upcoming Karnataka elections.

The Court however said that it cannot force the ECI to do the same, but the counsel of ECI assured the Court that if the Commission can take a call earlier, it will.

The Court has permitted Panneerselvam and other expelled Members of Legislative Assembly (MLAs) to raise their grievances before the ECI and take legal remedies available to them.

The High Court was approached by AIADMK and E Palaniswamy seeking directions to the ECI to add in its records the amended by-laws of the party through which Palaniswami was appointed the interim General Secretary of the party and O Panneerselvam was expelled.

The amended bye-laws also abolished the dual leadership system in the party through which Palaniswami and Panneerselvam shared power.

It was stated that the party has made several representations to the ECI for the same, but the Commission is yet to take any final decision.

In their plea, AIADMK and Palaniswamy stated that the stand of the Commission is that the records of the party are not being updated because of certain internal disputes in the party.

The plea argued that this is wholly contrary to the various settled legal principles as well as the stand taken by the ECI in the Shiv Sena dispute, where the Commission exercised its plenary power to decide the issue irrespective of internal issues pending in that party.

The plea stated that it is the duty of the ECI, as a State authority to provide a reasonable reply to representations submitted by a political party.

Till date, the ECI has deliberately chosen not to reply to any representations submitted by the Petitioner Political party Thus the inaction of ECI in the present case is plain violative of Article 14 of Constitution of India and ECI by not updating its record.

It was also argued that the power of the ECI under Section 29A (9) of the Representation of People’s Act, 1951 is to merely record the material changes/amendments to the constitution of a party and its office bearers.

“It (ECI) is not expected to embark on an enquiry or any investigation into the internal affairs of the party., Thus, the power of Section 29A (9) of the Representation of People’s Act, 1951 is only ministerial and not adjudicatory.”

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