EPS vs OPS: SC stays Madras HC order on AIADMK leadership row
Chennai, July 06: The Supreme Court on Wednesday stayed an interim order passed by the Madras High Court preventing the general council of All-India Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) from amending its bye-laws.
A vacation bench of Justices Dinesh Maheshwari and Krishna Murari issued notices on the plea of former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami challenging the Madras High Court order.
''Notice be issued to respondents, returnable in two weeks... In view of the facts and circumstances of case and subject matter of litigation and high court orders, it is considered appropriate that operation and effect of order June 23, 2022 shall remain stayed,'' the bench said.
In the last hearing, senior advocate CS Vaidyanathan, appearing for the EPS faction, had said that the High Court order restraining the party from taking up any unannounced resolution interferes with the internal functioning of a political party.
Vaidyanathan said that contempt petitions have been filed in the high court alleging violation of the interim order, which is coming up for hearing on Monday.
Counsel appearing in a caveat for party co-ordinator O Panneerselvam faction opposed the request for urgent listing saying it was an interim order and High Court is still seized of the matter.
He said that the order passed in an Original Suit, which is still pending before the high court, and contempt petitions were filed as there was a breach of the directions in the General and Executive councils meetings.
The bench ordered that the matter will be listed on July 6 subject to clearance given by the CJI.
On June 23, the Madras High Court had ruled that no unannounced resolutions could be taken up at the meeting of the AIADMK General and Executive councils here, restraining the camp led by Joint Co-ordinator EPS from initiating any such move over the possible single leadership issue.
The meeting of Tamil Nadu's main opposition party's General Council, its highest decision-making body, and the Executive was held on June 23.
In a late-night hearing that stretched till early June 23, a special division bench had granted the relief to party co-ordinator O Panneerselvam (OPS) at a special sitting held at the senior judge's residence at Anna Nagar in the city, on an appeal against a single judge order.
It had said that the meeting can take place as scheduled and the already decided 23 resolutions can be taken up and adopted.
No other new resolutions touching upon making amendments to party bye-laws to abolish Co-ordinator and Joint Co-ordinator posts and restoring the general secretary post to pave way for single leadership shall be taken up, the High Court had said.
Earlier at around 9 pm on June 22, a single-judge bench of the High Court in its brief order permitted the conduct of the meet but refrained from restraining the EPS group from taking up any other fresh resolutions, which would ultimately result in unitary leadership.
The aggrieved group led by OPS met High Court Chief Justice M N Bhandari after the order of the single-judge was pronounced and obtained his permission to prefer an appeal against the order.
The CJI constituted a bench of Justice M Duraiswamy and Sundar Mohan as the judges to make a special sitting and hear the appeal.
The internal rumblings of the AIADMK over the single leadership issue, with a majority of district secretaries and others favouring EPS to take over the mantle, had prompted Panneerselvam (OPS) to write to the former seeking deferring the meet, even as speculations were rife that the GC and EC could discuss the matter to affect the unitary leadership.
On June 23, the meet was held amid chaos and the AIADMK General Council announced that the one and only demand of the GC members is to bring in a system of a single leadership for the party, favouring Joint Coordinator EPS.
The Executive and General Council meet held together saw EPS emerging as the supreme leader and he was honoured with a decorated crown, a sword, and sceptre by supporters.
EPS' colleague and Coordinator OPS was apparently snubbed in the meet and rude slogans were shouted against him.