Supreme Court to hear plea on crucial AIADMK meet to end party’s dual leadership

ByAbraham Thomas
Jul 06, 2022 10:08 AM IST

With the AIADMK currently being run under the dual leadership of Palaniswami and O Panneerselvam, the former in his appeal before the SC claimed to have the support of 2,190 general council members

The Supreme Court will on Wednesday take up a petition filed by former Tamil Nadu chief minister and senior AIADMK leader Edappadi K Palaniswami to set aside a Madras high court decision that restrained the party’s general council to decide on the leadership issue ahead of its July 11 meeting.

The Supreme Court of India. (ANI File Photo)
The Supreme Court of India. (ANI File Photo)

With the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) currently being run under the dual leadership of Palaniswami and O Panneerselvam, the former in his appeal before the apex court claimed to have the support of 2,190 general council members, nearly the entire rank and file of the party, to restore the single leadership in the party.

In his petition filed through advocate Balaji Srinivasan, the former TN chief minister claimed that as the coordinator of the party, Panneerselvam’s “vexatious and prejudicial” acts have brought the party to a standstill.

The discussion on leadership in the upcoming council meeting was stalled on June 23 by the Madras high court on a petition filed by M Shanmugham, described by Palaniswami as a proxy acting on behalf of Panneerselvam. The petition filed by Palaniswami was mentioned before the top court on Monday, which posted the matter to July 6 for a hearing. The matter will come up before a bench of justices Dinesh Maheshwari and Krishna Murari.

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The petition, while exposing the rift within the party leadership, has found fault with the high court’s decision to erroneously “interfere with the internal working mechanism” of AIADMK’s decision-making process by directing that no resolution shall be passed on matters other than those listed in the agenda.

“The order in effect creates power of veto in respondent (Panneerselvam’s) favour, which is not envisaged in the bye-laws…. The impugned order, if allowed to stand, will cripple the inner party democracy and free, fair and unhindered discussions that is the ethos of AIADMK party,” the petition said.

In September 2017, when AIADMK chief J Jayalalithaa was hospitalised, followed by her death in December that year, the AIADMK general council appointed Panneerselvam as the coordinator and Palaniswamy as joint coordinator for a period of five years. This was meant to be on an experimental basis; since the said decision was not approved by subsequent council held in 2021, the term of the said posts had lapsed, Palaniswamy stated in his petition.

“Owing to respondent 2’s (Panneerselvam) actions, the AIADMK has reached a point where it cannot function,” the petition said, further alleging that due to lack of cooperation by Panneerselvam, the party could not set up its candidates for the bye-elections to 34 wards in the state’s local bodies, for which the last date of filing nominations was June 27.

Panneerselvam, also being the treasurer of the party, has not issued the payments for salaries and other expenses of the party, thus harming the interests of the party, the petition alleged.

According to the party by-laws the only requirement to convene a meeting is to give advance notice of 15 days to the said meeting, which was followed in the present case.

“Hence, the division bench (of Madras HC) need not have interfered with the democratic internal working of the respondent 3 (AIADMK),” Palaniswamy said, pointing out that even in the past, the by-laws of the party were amended without them being part of the agenda of the general council meeting.

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