The Supreme Court on Friday, July 29, asked the Madras High Court to make a fresh decision regarding former Chief Minister O Paneerselvam's challenge to the General Council meeting of the AIADMK, which was held earlier on June 23. The apex court has directed the HC to dispose of the case within a period of three weeks and ordered both Edappadi K Palaniswami and OPS to “maintain status quo” and not pass any more resolutions.
A bench headed by Chief Justice NV Ramana and comprising Justices Krishna Murari and Hima Kohli, was hearing a plea filed by OPS challenging the Madras High Court's order refusing to stall the General Council meeting of the AIADMK.
Senior advocate Gurukrishna Kumar, representing OPS in the Supreme Court, submitted that “extreme decisions” were taken at the General Council meeting, following which OPS was expelled from the party on July 11. He added that OPS was removed from the post of the Treasurer and the post of party joint-coordinator was also abolished. He further argued that the top court had said that further meetings can proceed in accordance with law, but the meeting was in contravention of the bye-laws. “The dual-leadership model in the AIADMK was ended in the party's General Council meeting, and EPS was elevated as the interim General Secretary of the party,” he contended. The Supreme Court, on July 6, stayed the Madras HC order restraining AIADMK General Council from passing any resolutions and permitted the party to proceed with the meeting, saying that the laws of the party must be followed.
Another counsel representing OPS urged the bench to restore the status quo that existed on July 11, prior to conducting of the party's General Council meeting. However, the top court said that it is remanding the matter back to the High Court “for fresh consideration without being influenced by the orders passed by it.”
"We request the HC to dispose of the matter within a period of three weeks maximum. Status quo has to be maintained by the parties. We have not expressed any opinion on merits," the bench observed.
The dispute within the AIADMK started on June 15, when senior party leader and former Minister D Jayakumar put forth the demand of unitary leadership. This would mean that the dual-leadership structure of AIADMK, where OPS and EPS were leading it as Coordinator and Joint Coordinator, respectively that existed till then had to be abolished.
While it was anticipated that the decision will be taken on the general council meeting on June 23, OPS went to the Madras High Court seeking to stay the meeting. However, the court refused to do so, and OPS approached the apex court. The court while passing this order said that while the meeting can take place as per the schedule, they “should not be permitted to pass any resolutions to change the bye-law of the party”.
Meanwhile, as many as 2,342 members raised the demand to discuss single leadership during the first General Council meeting, held on June 23. This meeting also witnessed a scuffle between EPS and OPS factions, with the latter being abused and attacked by supporters of Edappadi K Palaniswami. The general council meeting was then postponed to July 11.
After this, opposing this restraining order by the HC that no amendment should be made to laws, EPS went to the Supreme Court on June 28. The SC, after hearing the petition, stayed the Madras HC order, following which the meeting was held on July 11. In this meeting, EPS was made the interim head of the AIADMK and a special resolution was passed to expel OPS and his supporters from the party. In return, OPS announced that he sacked EPS from the party. Since then, both the factions have been claiming ownership to the party and expelling each others’ supporters from the party.
(With IANS inputs)