Chennai: In a setback for former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami, the Madras High Court on Wednesday nullified the July 11 AIADMK general council meeting in which he was appointed the party’s interim general secretary.
Allowing a petition filed by his rival and former Chief Minister O Panneerselvam challenging the general council meeting in which he was expelled from the party, Justice G Jayachandran ordered status quo ante in the AIADMK as on June 23, the day Panneerselvam was heckled out in a bid to end the dual leadership in the party.
Consequent to the order, Panneerselvam will now be the coordinator of the AIADMK, while Palaniswami would be the joint coordinator.
“This Court has no doubt in its mind that notice dated 01.07.2022 calling for General Council meeting for on 11.07.2022 by a person who is not authorised to call for meeting is void ab initio. If the consequence of the void meeting [is] allowed to sustain, it will cause inconvenience to the Party cadres, who will be uncertain about their Leadership,” the judge said.
The judge said there shall be no Executive Council meeting or General Council meeting without joint consent of Panneerselvam and Palaniswami.
There shall be no impediment for the Co-ordinator and the Joint Co-ordinator on their own to convene the General Council Meeting jointly to decide the affairs of the party including amendment of the party constitution restoring single leadership.
If a proper representation from not less than one-fifth members of the total members of the General Council is received, the Co-ordinator and the Joint Co-ordinator shall not refuse to convene the General Council meeting, the judge said. The General Council meeting, on such requisition shall be convened within 30 days from the date of receipt of the requisition and it shall be held after 15 days advance Notice given in writing.
“In case, the Co-ordinator and the Joint Co-ordinator are of the opinion that, for any reason further direction is required for conducting the General Council meeting or need assistance of Commissioner for conducting the meeting, it is open for them to approach this Court and seek necessary relief,” the judge said.
Supporters of O Panneerselvam burst crackers and distributed sweets to hail the verdict, while Palaniswami’s supporters were closeted in a meeting to decide the future course of action.
Political observers pointed out that though Panneerselvam has managed to get legal backing, politically he remains isolated within the party where a majority of functionaries are backing Palaniswami for unitary leadership. However, if Palaniswami fails to get this judicial verdict overturned through an appeal, it will be difficult for him to assert as a leader and instead would have to make an uneven compromise with Panneerselvam.