The court was hearing petitions that seeked to halt the AIADMK’s general and executive council meeting, scheduled to be held on June 23 at Vanagaram near Chennai.

File photo of the Madras High CourtFile photo of the Madras High Court
news Politics Wednesday, June 22, 2022 - 21:15

The Madras High Court on Wednesday, June 22, said that it could not interfere in a scheduled meeting of the AIADMK in Tamil Nadu, and refused to restrain the party’s general council from amending the party’s bye-laws, to pave way for a single leadership. The court was hearing petitions that seeked to halt the AIADMK’s general and executive council meeting, scheduled to be held on June 23 at Vanagaram near Chennai. With this, the meeting can go on as planned.

Justice Krishnan Ramasamy heard the case, while senior counsel Vijayan Narayanan represented Edappadi K Palaniswami (EPS) and senior counsels Aravindh Pandian, and G Rajagopal represented O Panneerselvam (OPS) and AIADMK General Council Member Shanmugam respectively.

“It is for the General Council and its members to decide and pass resolutions and this court cannot interfere with the process of conducting the General Council Meeting. Therefore, this court is not inclined to pass any interim orders/directions, except making it clear that the General Council Meeting which is scheduled to be held on June 23 shall go on,” the order stated.

Shanmugam's advocate G Rajagopal said in the court that the AIADMK has a bye-law that mandates the agenda of the meeting should be circulated to the general council meeting before the meeting but no such agenda has been circulated till now. "They (EPS camp) are trying to amend the bye-laws and bring back the post of general secretary that was abolished right after the death of former CM and AIADMK chief Jayalalithaa. How can such an important general meeting be organised without circulating the agenda to the members?" he asked. "The registered party is expected to act in a democratic way. As per the schedule the meeting can take place but should not be permitted to pass any resolutions to change the bye-law of the party" he further added.

AIADMK party coordinator and former deputy CM O Panneerselvam has sought the postponement of the meeting and insisted on dual leadership for the party but his co-coordinator and former Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami wants to take the party under his leadership. The issue was reignited recently after 2017, when former minister D Jayakumar stated in a press meet on June 15, that the demand for unitary leadership was put forth in a district secretary meeting. OPS vehemently opposed this comment and said that the issue should have been discussed at the headquarters meeting, and not in a press meet.

Read: AIADMK turmoil: Prominent leaders who switched from OPS to EPS camp

In the 2017 general council meeting, it was decided that the spirit of Jayalalithaa will hold the position of permanent general secretary of the AIADMK, and new posts of coordinator and co-coordinator were created. OPS and EPS were elected to these posts respectively.

In court, Aravindh Pandian said that OPS had received 23 draft resolutions for his clearance and he was ready to approve all of them, but would not approve any other agenda. "The court may record that OPS will not act against the bye-law of the party," he said.

The discussions at the courtroom further escalated as Vijaya Narayanan contended that there was no such practice of circulating the agenda prior to the meeting, adding that agendas would be placed directly on the floor of the meeting. On September 12, 2017, the bye-law of the party was amended and new posts of coordinator and co-coordinator were created at the general council meeting without circulating any agenda, EPS’s counsel pointed out. 

Senior Counsel G Rajagopal highlighted that the party has 2,655 general council members but no one knows what is going to happen tomorrow. "During the Jayalalithaa period, cadres never bothered about this general council meeting and the process, but now, EPS indirectly conceded there will be an amendment," said G Rajagopal, dubbing the move ‘despotic’.

Vijayan Narayanan had argued that the bye-laws of a private organisation like AIADMK have no concept of basic structure. He also said that it was premature to speculate about the agenda of the meeting before it was held. 

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