The Delhi High Court on Friday reserved its verdict on TTV Dhinakaran and VK Sasikala's pleas challenging the Election Commission's (EC) decision to recognise the group led by Tamil Nadu Chief Minister E K Palaniswami as the real AIADMK party and allotting it the 'two leaves' symbol.
A bench of Justices G S Sistani and Sangita Dhingra Sehgal asked all the sides, including the two leaders and the Palaniswami faction, to file their statements within three days so that it can write the judgement and deliver it within four weeks.
The bench said it was giving three days to file the written statements as it wants to pronounce the verdict within four weeks in view of the Supreme Court order of Thursday that EC can decide Dhinakaran's plea for an interim poll symbol, if the high court's decision does not come within four weeks.
The apex court had also vacated its order of abeyance on the high court's interim decision of March 9, 2018 which directed the EC to allot a common symbol, preferably that of a 'pressure cooker', and a name to the then AIADMK (Amma) faction led by Dhinakaran.
The top court had said that since the matter was pending before the high court for final adjudication, there was no just reason as to why the interim arrangement of allotting 'pressure cooker' symbol by the poll panel ought not continue.
"If the writ petition is not finally disposed of by the division bench of the High Court within four weeks from today, the ECI shall process the application of the group represented by respondent No.1 (Dhinakaran) in terms of the directions given by the High Court vide interim order dated March 9, 2018 and issue appropriate directions within two weeks there from (i.e., four weeks plus two weeks, from today)," it had said.
It had also said, that if before the expiry of six weeks period the EC issues any notification for bypolls for vacant assembly seats in Tamil Nadu or parliamentary elections, the poll panel shall pass appropriate directions as per the high court's order.
The apex court's order had come on an application filed by Dhinakaran for a direction to the EC for allocating his group a common symbol, preferably 'pressure cooker', as a by-election to fill the vacant assembly seat of Thiruvarur in Tamil Nadu had been announced and the date of polling had been fixed as January 28.
Later, the by-election to Thiruvarur seat was rescinded by a notification issued by the EC on January 6.
The 'pressure cooker' symbol was allotted, as an interim measure, to Dinakaran faction last year during the bypolls of the R K Nagar constituency in the state which he had won with a margin of over 40,000 votes.
During the brief arguments on Friday, senior advocate Kapil Sibal, representing Dhinakaran, told the high court that his client's faction was backed by majority of AIADMK members, but the poll panel had not considered the fact.
The EC on November 23, 2017 had allotted the 'two leaves' symbol to the group headed by Palaniswami and his deputy O Panneerselvam.
The EC in March 2017 had given the 'hat' symbol to the Sasikala-Dhinakaran group after it froze the use of the 'two-leaves' symbol to which the group led by Palaniswami and Panneerselvam had also staked claim. The Palaniswami-Panneerselvam faction had at the same time been granted the 'electric pole' symbol.
However, on November 23, 2017, the poll panel had ruled in favour of the Palaniswami-Panneerselvam faction by allotting the 'two-leaves' symbol to them.
The symbol issue has been lingering since April 2017 in the aftermath of the announcement of the by-poll to Radha Krishnan Nagar constituency in Tamil Nadu following the death of AIADMK supremo J Jayalalithaa in December 2016.
Earlier, rival factions led by Sasikala and Panneerselvam had staked claim over the symbol. Palaniswami was then in the Sasikala camp. Later, a large number of legislators led by Palaniswami revolted against Sasikala.
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