As the Delhi High Court on Friday asked the Election Commission (EC) whether the Sasikala-Dhinakaran faction of the AIADMK can be allowed to file nominations using the "Hat" symbol, the Commission said the symbol is free and the Returning Officer (RO) will decide on it on December 7.
The Returning Officer, after receiving the nominations for the bye-election to the RK Nagar assembly segment, would decide whom to allot the Hat symbol, the Commission told Justice SP Garg.
The court was hearing a plea filed by VK Sasikala and TTV Dhinakaran challenging the Commission's order allotting the "Two Leaves" symbol to the faction led by Tamil Nadu Chief Minister K Palaniswami and Deputy Chief Minister O Panneerselvam.
Sasikala-Dhinakaran also sought an interim direction to the EC to allow it to use the Hat symbol in the RK Nagar bye-poll.
The faction told the court that the Commission had cancelled the allotment of the Hat symbol to it and therefore, the Returning Officer would reject the nomination of their candidate.
In March, the Commission, when it had frozen the use of the "Two Leaves" symbol, had given the Hat symbol to the Sasikala-Dhinakaran faction and granted the "Electric Pole" symbol to the Palaniswami-Panneerselvam faction.
On November 23, however, the EC ruled in favour of the Palaniswami-Panneerselvam faction by allotting the Two Leaves symbol to them for the upcoming bye-poll which is to be held on December 21.
The Commission had said that the Panneerselvam-Palaniswami faction "enjoys support of majority of members, both in the organisational and legislature wings" of the AIADMK, and was entitled to use the party name and its Two Leaves symbol.
After the death of former Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa in December last year, the AIADMK split into two factions -- one led by Panneerselvam and the other by her aide, now jailed Sasikala.
Subsequently, the Sasikala faction broke up again, with Chief Minister Palaniswami branching away and forming a government with the backing of Panneerselvam. The two factions also started sidelining the AIADMK group led by Sasikala and her nephew Dhinakaran.
Later, the Panneerselvam and Palaniswami factions merged, annulled the appointment of Sasikala as the General Secretary and struck down the appointments made by her before she went to jail for corruption.
The court has now posted the poll symbol matter for Monday.