New Delhi [India], July 6 (ANI): The Supreme Court on Wednesday stayed the June 23 division bench order of the Madras High Court order that had restrained the AIADMK General Council from amending the party bye-laws during its meeting.
A vacation bench of Justices Dinesh Maheshwari and Krishna Murari issued notice to the O Panneerselvam (OPS) camp and asked the parties to file their affidavit within two weeks.
The bench observed that Courts cannot interfere with the inner functioning of a political party. The apex court also clarified that the July 11 General Council can proceed in accordance with the law.
"Notice issued to respondents, returnable in two weeks. Given facts and circumstances of the case and subject matter of litigation and High Court orders, we considered apt that operation and effect of order June 23, 2022, shall remain stayed," the bench stated in its order.
The apex court was hearing the plea filed by AIADMK leader Edappadi K Palaniswami (EPS) against the High Court order.
Senior advocate CS Vaidyanathan for Palaniswami (EPS) told the bench that the division bench held an extraordinary sitting at midnight at the residence of one of the judges and passed an order at 4 am to restrain the General Council from passing any resolutions.
"This amounted to judicial interference with the internal functioning of a political party," he said, adding that as far as interference in the internal management of political parties is concerned High Court's jurisdiction is limited.
He submitted, "The attempt is to stop the internal democracy of the party by a person who does not have the support of majority members."
The bench also observed that the direction of the division bench amounts to the court telling the party how it should function.
"Can such an order be passed even at the final decree stage, let alone the interim stage?" it asked.
Senior advocate Maninder Singh appearing for OPS group opposed the plea of EPS saying coordinator, and joint coordinator posts have to be there till September 2022.
"From 2017 there is a system. This system has worked for the last five years. It became a problem because this person now wants to throw away joint leadership for unitary leadership," Singh said.
The bench said, "Who wants to do what within the party forum is essentially within that compact only. Is it our jurisdiction? These things have to be worked out internally. You have to work out all your friendship and dispute at the platform of..."
What's bothering us is that you are part of the General Council, decide everything there, why in a judicial forum, asked the bench to the counsels.
A single judge of the High Court had earlier refused to restrain the General Council from passing resolutions aimed at amending its by-laws to pave the way for a unitary leadership instead of dual leadership.
It had rejected a batch of applications for an order against the passing of any such resolutions and held that it was for the General Council to decide upon its functioning and not for the court to dictate which resolution could be passed and which should not be passed.
The Panneerselvam camp, however, challenged the single judge order before a division bench which had restrained the General Council from passing any resolution other than the 23 drafts that had been approved by the party coordinator Panneerselvam.
Then EPS filed an appeal before the top court against the division bench order stating that in the General Council meeting held on June 23, the majority of members sought the abolition of the dual leadership model and for the adoption of a unitary leadership structure.
Since the passing away of former Chief Minister and All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) general secretary J Jayalalithaa, the party has been having a dual leadership with Panneerselvam and Palaniswami leading it as coordinator and joint coordinator respectively.
However, recently, disputes arose between both the leaders, with the EPS group pressing for unitary leadership
In the Supreme Court, Palaniswami contended that the High Court division bench had erroneously interfered with the internal democratic process of the AIADMK, and the General Council, the supreme body of the AIADMK, was prevented from deciding on internal party affairs.
The appeal has sought an interim stay on the High Court order. (ANI)