The Supreme Court on Wednesday stayed a Delhi high court order asking the Election Commission to consider allotting the ‘pressure cooker’ poll symbol to the AIADMK faction led by TTV Dhinakaran.
A bench comprising Chief Justice Dipak Misra and justice AM Khanwilkar also asked Delhi high court acting chief justice Gita Mittal to set up a two-judge bench to decide the main dispute between the two AIADMK factions over their rival claims on the party and its ‘two leaves’ symbol by April end.
One faction is led by Tamil Nadu Chief Minister EK Palaniswamy and the other by Dhinakaran.
The Delhi high court had on March 9 directed the poll panel to allot a common symbol, preferably a ‘pressure cooker’, and a name to the AIADMK (Amma) faction led by Dhinakaran.
The high court order came on an application by Dhinakaran challenging an EC order of November 23 last year. The poll panel had allotted the ‘two leaves’ symbol to the group headed by Palaniswami and his deputy O Panneerselvam, who opposed grant of any relief in the matter.
The interim plea had sought the allocation of a name and symbol till the pendency of the main petition, claiming that the poll panel might declare it a separate party otherwise.
Dhinakaran had asked for the pressure cooker symbol as he had it in December last year when he won the Radha Krishnan Nagar Assembly by-election with a margin of over 40,000 votes.
He had also, during hearing of the application, suggested three names for his faction — All India Amma Anna Dhravidar Munnetra Kazhagam, MGR Amma Dravidar Munnetra Kazhagam and MGR Amma Dhravidar Kazhagam.
The Palaniswami-Panneerselvam group had opposed Dhinakaran’s plea on several grounds, including that his faction had to register itself as a separate party to get a name and symbol and that the appropriate forum for the matter was the Madras high court.
Rejecting their contentions, the court said Dhinakaran’s faction cannot be compelled to register as a new political party and then apply to EC for a symbol as his plea laying claim to the two leaves symbol would then become a fait accompli.
In March last year, the EC gave 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 laid claim. The Palaniswami-Panneerselvam faction had at the same time been granted the ‘electric pole’ symbol.
However, on November 23, 2017, the poll panel ruled in favour of the Palaniswami-Panneerselvam faction by allotting the ‘two leaves’ symbol to them.
The symbol issue has been lingering since April last in the aftermath of the announcement of the by-poll to the Radha Krishnan Nagar constituency 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.