AIADMK symbol to be decided in a month

The Supreme Court on Thursday vacated its order for keeping in abeyance a direction by the Delhi High Court to the Election Commission to consider granting a common election symbol, preferably "pressure cooker" to T T V Dhinakaran, who led a group of AIADMK leaders.

"We have no hesitation in agreeing with the High Court that for doing justice and protecting the interests of all concerned and to uphold the democratic principles, including for ensuring free and fair elections, it would be just and proper to continue the interim arrangement as was directed by the EC regarding allotment of a common symbol to the political group represented by Dhinakaran,” a bench of Justices A M Khanwilkar and M R Shah said.

The court also said it would not cause prejudice to any group or impinge upon the power of the EC.

The court asked the Delhi high court to decide within four weeks a plea by Dhinakaran against the EC's order declaring O Paneerselvam and Edappadi K Palaniswami-led group as the true AIADMK with 'two leaves' as the party symbol.

It said that if the high court failed to decide the matter within four weeks, the EC can consider within two weeks thereafter giving Dhinakaran preferably the 'pressure cooker' symbol in terms of March 9, 2018 order of the high court.

"If the EC issues a press note for vacant Assembly or Parliamentary seats before expiry of a four-week deadline granted to Delhi high court, the EC shall grant appropriate relief like a common symbol of 'pressure cooker' to Dhinakaran," the court said.

After the death of AIADMK chief J Jayalalithaa, the party got split, one faction was headed by O Paneerselvam and another by V K Sasikala and Dhinakaran. 

The OPS group approached the EC and claimed that they are the true party and that therefore the 'two leaves' symbol should be allotted to them.

There was an interim order by which its symbol was frozen.

Subsequently, Sasikala was dislodged and Palaniswami became the leader of the party. Both OPS and EPS factions merged.

The EC, in its final order on November 23, 2017, declared that the group headed by OPS and EPS is the true and correct AIADMK party. This order was challenged before the Delhi High Court.

During the pendency of the writ petition, Dhinakaran sought an interim order for allotting the name and symbol. This was initially allowed by the high court on March 9, 2018. The EPS and OPS have challenged this before the Supreme Court.

The top court on March 28 kept the order in abeyance and directed the high court to complete the hearing by April 30. This never happened.

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