Plea in high court against EC order allotting ‘two leaves’ symbol to unified AIADMK
New Delhi: Sidelined AIADMK leaders Sasikala and T.T.V. Dhinakaran on Thursday moved the Delhi high court against the Election Commission’s (EC’s) decision recognizing the unified AIADMK under Tamil Nadu chief minister E.K. Palaniswami as the real party and allowing it to use the “two leaves” poll symbol.
The plea for urgent hearing of the matter was mentioned before a bench of acting chief justice Gita Mittal and justice C. Hari Shankar and sought quashing of the 23 November order of the EC. Senior advocate Kirti Uppal, appearing for Sasikala and Dhinakaran, said the matter required urgent hearing as the poll panel’s order was bad in law and needed to be set aside. Agreeing to the contention of the senior advocate, the bench listed the matter for hearing on Friday.
The issue has been lingering since April in the aftermath of the announcement of bypoll to RK Nagar assembly constituency following the death of AIADMK supremo J. Jayalalithaa in December last year. The bypoll to Radha Krishnan Nagar Assembly constituency will be held on 21 December. The EC had on 23 November allotted the “two leaves” symbol to the unified AIADMK led by Palaniswami and O. Panneerselvam, dealing a blow to the Sasikala faction.
“The group led by E. Madhusudhanan and others is hereby recognized... As the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, which is a recognized state party in the state of Tamil Nadu and in the union territory of Puducherry, for whom the symbol ‘two leaves’ is reserved in the said state and union territory,” the poll panel had said.
The plea also sought direction for initiating appropriate proceedings against Madhusudhanan, AIADMK’s candidate for the RK Nagar bypoll, Palaniswami, Panneerselvam and MLA Semmalai for their acts. It also sought to call for records and files relating to their dispute over the symbol. Uppal, who was present along with advocate Amit Anand Tiwari, told the court that the poll panel has not only given a “perverse finding but has also committed serious illegalities while arriving at the decision”.
“The decision making process of the ECI is contrary to the settled legal principles. The EC has treated fabricated and untested material as genuine which has resulted in the hearing being unfair and consequently contrary to the principle of natural justice and therefore the proceedings and the order are void,” the plea submitted. The order of the commission came as a setback to deposed party leader Sasikala, who is currently serving a four-year sentence in a Bengaluru jail in a disproportionate assets case, and her nephew Dhinakaran.
Earlier, rival factions led by Sasikala and Panneerselvam had staked claim over the symbol. Palaniswami was then in the Sasikala camp. In an interim order in March this year, the EC had barred the two factions from using the party’s name or its two leaves symbol in the bypoll. Later, a large number of legislators led by Palaniswami revolted against Sasikala and announced the merger of the two factions.
The EPS-OPS camp then submitted affidavits before the EC, staking claim over the party name and symbol, which was contested by the Sasikala-Dhinakaran camp.