Monday, September 25, 2023

AIADMK leadership row: Supreme Court upholds Madras High Court order, permits EPS to continue as General Secretary

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The Supreme Court on Thursday upheld the order of the Madras High Court that permitted Edappadi Palaniswamy (EPS) to continue as the interim General Secretary of  All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK), amid the political upheaval caused by the leadership battle between EPS and O. Paneerselvam (OPS).

The Division Bench of Justice Dinesh Maheswari and Justice Hrishikesh Roy, however, noted that today’s verdict was related to the interim orders passed by the High Court and the same would not have any bearing on the suit pending in the High Court in relation to the disputes between OPS and EPS.

The Apex Court left all other issues open to be decided in the suit.

Earlier on January 12, the Division Bench of Justice Dinesh Maheswari and Justice Hrishikesh Roy had reserved its judgment in the matter.

The Court had dismissed the petitions filed by OPS against the September 2, 2022 order passed by the Division Bench of the Madras High Court, which had reversed a single bench order for maintaining status quo concerning the AIADMK leadership as it existed before the election of Edappadi Palanisamy as the interim General Secretary of the party on July 11.

Earlier on February 3, the Apex Court had directed the two factions of AIADMK to convene a General Council meeting for selection of candidates to the upcoming bypolls of Erode East Assembly constituency.

The Apex Court had observed that while the verdict had been reserved on the leadership tussle between the factions led by OPS and EPS, this was an interim arrangement for the coming by-election.

The Bench said that without prejudice to the rights of any other parties and conferring any additional right to any of the parties, the rival factions would jointly choose the candidates during the General Council of the party.

Taking in view the time constraints, the decision-making process should involve putting necessary resolutions through circulation, it added.

It further said that during the process for arriving at names, the expulsions shall not be in place in the interim. The aforesaid three persons, in other words, can put forth their views too for this limited purpose, noted the Court.

As per the Supreme Court order, Panneerselvam’s expulsion from the party stands set aside for the time being.

The leadership crisis in AIADMK began after the death of former Chief Minister and party’s General Secretary J. Jayalalithaa and widened after the arrest of subsequent interim General Secretary V Sasikala.

Both Palaniswami and Panneerselvam then held the posts of Joint coordinator and coordinator of the party, respectively. Their tenure, as per Panneerselvam, was supposed to lapse on June 23, 2022.

Following AIADMK’s defeat in the state elections in 2021, a section of the office-bearers sought to amend the party’s by-laws so that there will be a single leader for the party.

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