New Delhi | In a setback to expelled AIADMK leader O Panneerselvam, the Supreme Court on Friday refused to interfere with the party general council resolutions removing him and his supporters and electing his rival Edappadi K Palaniswami as interim chief.
The top court also refused to interfere with the August 25, 2023 order of the Madras High Court rejecting the pleas of O Panneerselvam and his supporters.
A bench of justices Sanjiv Khanna and Dipankar Datta told senior advocate K K Venugopal, appearing for Paneerselvam and other senior counsel appearing for his supporters, that it is not inclined to interfere with the high court order.
The bench said interfering with the resolution would amount to allowing the suit (challenging the resolutions passed by the general council on July 11, 2022), pending before the civil court.
"If we interfere at this juncture, it will create huge chaos. To us it appears, there is a split within the party, it will work itself out. Sometimes, it's better to let things work themselves out. Sorry, we are not inclined to interfere with the high court order," the bench said.
The top court, however, directed for expeditious hearing of the pending suits and gave liberty to Panneerselvam and his aides to move application before the civil court for consolidation of all the suits.
At the outset, Venugopal said his prayer is to stay the general council resolution removing Panneerselvam from the party, which was passed without it being there in the agenda of the meeting.
Justice Khanna told Venugopal that the high court has held that a prima facie case may be made out but the balance of convenience is not there.
"How can we stay the general council resolution at this stage? It would mean, virtually allowing your suit. Prima facie case may not be enough. Sorry, continue with the suit, we cannot interfere at this stage," he said.
Venugopal said the suit will take years to decide and urged the court to direct for expeditious hearing.
"We are not inclined to interfere with impugned judgment as granting injunction may have its own unpalatable consequences. However, we deem it appropriate to observe that the impugned judgment, including order passed by the single-judge, will not be considered to be opinions on the merits of the case, nor will the dismissal of this SLP," the bench ordered.
Directing incumbent general secretary Palaniswami-led camp to file written submissions in three weeks in the civil suit, the bench said, "We expect trial in the civil suit will proceed expeditiously and parties will not take adjournments."
Panneerselvam and his three supporters R Vaithilingam, PH Manoj Pandian and JCD Prabhakar moved the top court challenging the August 25, 2023 order of the Madras High Court by which it had dismissed all the appeals filed by them against the March 28, 2023 verdict of the single judge.
Panneerselvam and his supporters in the high court have challenged abolition of post of coordinator and joint coordinator posts, revival of the general secretary post and their expulsion from the party in July 11, 2022 general council resolutions.
On August 25, 2023, the high court dismissed all the appeals filed by Panneerselvam and his aides against the July, 2022 general council meeting of the party, which among others had elected his rival Palaniswami as interim chief.
Previously, Panneerselvam was the coordinator and Palaniswami the joint coordinator in the party.
Further, on March 28, 2023, a single judge had rejected the pleas filed by Panneerselvam and his aides against the party's July 11, 2022, general council resolutions.
The single-judge bench had said the AIADMK's July 11, 2022 general council resolutions relating to expulsion of Panneerselvam and appointing Palaniswami as the then interim chief were prima facie valid.
The general council is the AIADMK's highest decision-making body.
Palaniswami was subsequently elected general secretary, the party's top post on March 28, 2023 soon after the single judge order was pronounced.
The AIADMK is the principal opposition party in Tamil Nadu with Palaniswami currently the Leader of Opposition in the state Assembly.