Delhi HC refuses interim relief to Sasikala faction

NEW DELHI
4 Dec 2017

The Delhi High Court today declined to grant any interim relief to V K Sasikala-TTV Dhinakaran faction of the AIADMK by dismissing their plea to use the 'hat' symbol in the upcoming by-poll to the R K Nagar assembly constituency.

While dismissing the interim application of Sasikala and Dhinakaran for allotment of the 'hat' symbol, Justice Indermeet Kaur directed the returning officer (RO) to give a finding on their plea, independent of the poll panel's November 23 order. The Election Commission of India by its November 23 order had allotted the 'two leaves' symbol to the faction of Tamil Nadu chief minister E Palaniswami and O Panneerselvam and set aside its own interim order granting 'hat' symbol to the Sasikala-Dhinakaran group. During arguments, the court was of the view that the RO may not take a decision which went against the EC's November 23 order.

The High Court had reserved its order after hearing arguments on behalf of the EC and the two factions of the AIADMK. Towards the fag end of the arguments, the poll panel told the court that its RO can be directed to take a decision independent of the EC order. Subsequently, the court said in its order, "interim application dismissed. This court is not inclined to grant any interim relief. "The RO, however, is directed to return a finding on the petitioners' application for nomination along with their application seeking grant of 'hat' independently, dehors any observations made by EC in terms of its order of November 23," the court said in its interim order. The court also issued notice to the Election Commission of India, O Panneerselvam, Tamil Nadu CM E Palaniswami seeking their replies to Sasikala and Dhinakaran's pleas challenging the poll panel's November 23 order allotting the 'two-leaves' symbol to the Panneerselvam-Palaniswami faction.

It sought the response of Madhusudhanan, AIADMK's candidate for the December 21 by-poll and MLA Semmalai, who are also respondents in the pleas by Sasikala and Dhinakaran. The main petition will be heard on February 12, the court said. During arguments, the poll panel, Palaniswami, Panneerselvam and others opposed the grant of 'hat' symbol to Sasikala-Dhinakaran group by the court, saying the RO alone had the power to do so. They said if the Sasikala-Dhinakaran group do not get the 'hat' symbol, then some other free symbol could be granted to them by the RO.

The court did not appear to agree with the contentions, saying the RO being subordinate to the poll panel, will not go against the EC's November 23 order by which the grant of 'hat' symbol to Sasikala-Dhinakaran group was set aside.