Special Hearing on Sunday| In EPS vs. OPS matter Madras HC refuses to stay AIADMK General Secretary Elections

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Madras HC in a special sitting on Sunday permitted AIADMK to proceed with its election plan for the party's general secretary job but ordered that the results be withheld until the initial petition is resolved.

The Madras High Court recently conducted a special sitting to solve the tussle between state’s former chief minister Edappadi K Palaniswami (EPS) and O Paneerselvam (OPS) of the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK). The pleas were filed by expelled AIADMK leaders Manoj Pandian, R Vaithilingam & JCD Prabhakar for stay on election to the post of general secretary.

Pandian, a member of AIADMK, has previously challenged the AIADMK Party's decisions made at its meeting on July 11, 2022. The resolutions dismissed Pandian and others from the party, including former CM O Paneerselvam, and Edappadi Palaniswami was appointed acting general secretary.

Senior Counsel CS Vaidyanathan and Vijay Narayan, who represented EPS and the General Council, respectively, provided the court with an undertaking after a single judge bench consented to hear all interim applications in the matter on March 22 and pass orders by March 24.

Justice K Kumaresh Babu presided over a special Sunday hearing after three expelled AIADMK members from the OPS camp - Manoj Pandian, R Vaithilingam, and JCD Prabhakar - sought the Court's permission for an urgent hearing to delay the party's General Secretary Elections scheduled for March 26.

On Friday evening last week, the party had issued a call for nominations for the position of General Secretary.

EPS submitted his nomination papers on Saturday. The petitioners then moved the high court for an urgent hearing. The nominations concluded at 3 p.m. on Sunday, and the party had received only one nomination up to that point, that of EPS.

Senior Lawyer PS Raman, who represented Pandian, questioned why the party hurried to hold elections while the case was still in court, calling it an abuse of the legal process. He asked the Court to delay the March 26 elections as an interim measure.

However, EPS and AIADMK asserted that the “court should not intervene in the parties' internal affairs. Further, they also stated that the process leading up to the polling had already begun and needed to be finished immediately per procedure.”

Furthermore, the election results will be subject to the Court's final orders. As a result, they maintained, there was no way to postpone the polls.

Judge Babu questioned why there was such a rush to announce the polls when the matter was still being litigated. He then inquired whether the announcement of results could be postponed.

"I am not going to stay the election. But I am asking you to not declare results until the next hearing," the judge said.

When the party's counsel objected to the notion, the court asked whether they could at least ensure that the candidate elected as General Secretary did not take office for a week. Meanwhile, the court stated that it would hear all outstanding connected applications on the subject and issue orders.

Lastly, Senior Advocates Vaidyanathan and Narayan subsequently guaranteed that the election results would not be announced until March 24.

Case Tile: Paul Manoj Pandian@ PH Manjo Pandian vs. All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam and others.