New Delhi: The Delhi high court on Friday refused to grant any ‘urgent relief’ to T.T.V. Dhinakaran in his plea wherein he had sought the court’s permission to use the ‘hat’ symbol for contesting the R.K. Nagar Assembly by-election as an independent candidate.

Justice S.P. Garg refused to hear the matter on merit as justice Indrameet Kaur, who presides over election disputes, was on leave. “Let the matter be heard by the Roster Bench on merit on 4th December," the judge said.

Counsel for the Election Commission, P.C. Chopra, informed the court that nomination had already been filed by Dhinakaran as an independent candidate with ‘hat’ as his symbol. “It is now the jurisdiction of the Returning Officer to decide whether this symbol (‘hat’) can be allotted to him or not," counsel submitted.

“There is a bar on Court’s interference once the election process has begun, by virtue of Article 329 of the Constitution of India," the Election Commission further argued, disputing the jurisdiction of the high court to hear the case.

Counsels Kapil Sibal, Abhishek Manu Singhvi and Kirti Uppal, appearing for Sasikala and Dhinakaran, sought urgent relief from the high court for Dhinakaran to be allowed to contest the R.K. Nagar Assembly by-election to be held in December with the ‘hat’ symbol.

They also prayed for a stay on the allotment of the ‘two-leaves’ symbol to any party, arguing that the order of the Election Commission allotting the symbol to the Panneerselvam-Palaniswami faction of AIADMK was bad in law and could not be sustained.

Earlier this year, the Election Commission had frozen the use of the ‘two-leaves’ symbol in the R.K. Nagar by-election in the light of the contesting claims from within AIADMK to use the symbol.

The then factions within AIADMK, i.e. Panneerselvam-Sasikala-Dhinakaran on one hand, and Palaniswami on the other were issued notices by the Election Commission to prove their claim over the ‘two-leaves’ symbol. Later, Panneerselvam and Palaniswami joined hands to oust Sasikala and Dhinakaran.

On 23 November, the Election Commission allotted the ‘two-leaves’ symbol to the Panneerselvam-Palaniswami faction of AIADMK on the ground that they enjoyed the support of the majority of the members in the legislative and organizational wing.

The matter will now be heard by the Roster Bench on 4 December at 10.30am. The last date to file nomination is also 4 December.

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