The Big Win: Supreme Court upholds Madras HC order, allows EPS to stay AIADMK chief

The Supreme Court on Thursday affirmed the September 2, 2022 order of a division bench of Madras High Court order, which allowed former Tamil Nadu chief minister Edappadi Palaniswami to continue as the interim general secretary of AIADMK.

A bench of Justices Dinesh Maheshwari and Hrishikesh Roy ruled that the “convening” of the July 11, 2022 meeting of the AIADMK general council, which elected Palaniswami as interim general secretary, “could not have been taken as an act unauthorised”.

The SC decision comes on an appeal filed by EPS’s rival and former Tamil Nadu chief minister O Paneerselvam, popularly known as OPS.

On July 6, 2022, the SC had stayed the June 23, 2022, order of Madras HC division bench, which had restrained passing any unannounced resolutions in the meeting of the AIADMK general and executive councils concerning the issue of single leadership of the party.

The AIADMK general council held on July 11, 2022, had elected Palaniswami, popularly called EPS, as the party’s interim general secretary and expelled OPS. Subsequently, a single bench of HC ordered the status quo in the matter. But this was reversed by a division bench on September 2, 2022, following which OPS moved the Supreme Court.

Pronouncing its judgment on Thursday, the Supreme Court, however, made it clear that it had not gone into the contentions about correctness of the resolutions adopted at the July 11 general council meeting. “In the interest of justice, we leave all related aspects concerning the said resolutions open to be agitated, but strictly in accordance with law”, the court said.

OPS had approached the apex court, challenging the September 2 order of the HC division bench order, which had reversed a single-bench order directing status quo ante, as existing on June 23, 2022, to be maintained. It said there would be no executive council or general council meeting without the joint consent of OPS, who was party coordinator, and EPS, the joint coordinator.

The main plank of OPS’s submission was that convening of the meeting on July 11 suffered from illegalities, that it was not convened by an authorised person, and that 15 days’ notice was not given.

The SC, however, said that “the same had been the reasoning adopted by the learned Single Judge while finding a prima facie case in favour of” OPS. The top court also said the “said reasoning and similar arguments remain fallacious and cannot be accepted”.

The SC judgment said the HC division bench in its September 2 order has “clearly pointed out as to how the order of temporary injunction as passed by the learned Single Judge was against the sound judicial principles and the discretion exercised by the learned Single Judge was suffering from arbitrariness as also perversity. In our view, the logic and reasoning of the division bench of the High Court stand in accord with law, as also the facts of the present case.”

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