AIADMK leadership dispute: EC tells Supreme Court it does not regulate, monitor inner-party functioning

The poll panel also said it had not uploaded the AIADMK's bylaws amended last year as the matter was under challenge in the Supreme Court.

BySouth First Desk

Published Feb 03, 2023 | 2:20 AMUpdated Feb 03, 2023 | 2:22 AM

The Supreme Court of India

The Election Commission of India on Thursday, 2 February, told the Supreme Court that it “does not regulate or monitor inner-party functions or internal elections of any political party”, as it is envisaged neither under the Constitution nor under any other law.

The poll panel said this in response to a plea by Edappadi K Palaniswami (EPS) faction of the All-India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) seeking an interim direction to the Election Commission to allot it the party’s “Two Leaves” election symbol for the Erode (East) Assembly seat, for which by-election is being held on 27 February.

In the last hearing of the EPS plea, the apex court asked the EPS faction of the AIADMK to serve a copy of its plea on the Election Commission.

The EPS faction approached the court seeking direction for the allotment of the “Two Leaves” symbol for Erode (East) bypoll.

The seat had fallen vacant following the death of Thirumahan Everaa — son of senior Congress leader and former TNCC president EVKS Elangoan. Thirumahan Everaa died on 4 January.

A bench of Justice Dinesh Maheshwari and Justice Hrishikesh Roy will hear the case on Friday.

Also read: AIADMK has 2 candidates in Erode East bypoll; EPS, OPS lock horns

What the Election Commission said

The Election Commission, in its affidavit filed before the top court on Thursday, said that it had not taken on record the 11 July, 2022, amended bylaws adopted by the AIADMK General Council as it was under challenge before the apex court.

The poll panel told the court that it was mandated to ensure that all recognised political parties report to it about the holding of their elections at prescribed intervals as provided in their respective party constitutions, and that they also submit a list of office bearers elected at the central level.

The Election Commission also said that in the AIADMK case, the 11 July, 2022, amended by-laws were “not taken on record” by it as it was “under challenge, including the manner and the process in which the amendments were passed in the said meeting, in a number of litigations and counter litigations”.

The fresh application has sought directions to the Election Commission to upload the amendments made to the party bylaws during the 11 July General Council meeting.

The EPS faction’s contention

After five reminders since then to the Election Commission to upload the amended bylaws of the party, Palaniswami again approached the Commission on 23 January for the uploading.

He asked the poll panel to upload the amended by-laws or alternately confirm in writing, authorizing the interim General Secretary to sign the requisite forms to put up candidates for the Erode East by-poll.

On 30 January, it was submitted before the top court that the Election Commission refused to accept the signature of Palaniswami as the AIADMK’s interim general secretary during the nomination process ahead of the Erode (East) Assembly by-election, citing the pendency of cases on the party’s leadership dispute before the Supreme Court.

On the contention of Palaniswami that the poll panel was refusing to accept his signature as the AIADMK’s interim general secretary, the EC said the Returning Officer, being the statutory authority, “has to exercise due diligence for acceptance of nomination of candidate duly authorised by the office bearer of the political party which is on record of the Election Commission”.

The last date for filing nominations for the by-election is 7 February.

The leadership dispute

On 11 January, the apex court bench reserved its verdict on a batch of pleas relating to the tussle between former chief ministers O Panneerselvam and Palaniswami over the AIADMK leadership.

In its General Council meeting held on 11 July, the dual-leadership model in the AIADMK was ended and OPS was expelled from the AIADMK for “anti-party” activities.

In the meeting, EPS was elevated as the interim general secretary of the party.

Since the passing away of former chief minister and AIADMK general secretary J Jayalalithaa, the party had a dual leadership with OPS and EPS leading it as coordinator and joint coordinator, respectively.

However, disputes arose between the leaders, with the EPS group pressing for unitary leadership.

Also read: Why OPS was ousted from AIADMK by popular demand