In a further setback to deposed All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam leader O Panneerselvam, the Madras high court on Friday dismissed his appeals against the 2022 general council meet of the party, which among others had elected his rival Edappadi K Palaniswami as interim chief, besides expelling OPS and his aides.
Palaniswami, since elected as the party's general secretary, hailed the court verdict as one given for "justice, dharma and truth". Party workers celebrated the court ruling by bursting crackers and distributing sweets.
Today's court ruling was yet another setback for OPS, as Panneerselvam is addressed, as he has been mounting a legal battle since last year against the general council resolutions.
In September last year, a division bench of the Madras high court had quashed an earlier single judge order, which ordered maintenance of status-quo ante as of June 23 regarding the party affairs.
Previously, Panneerselvam was the coordinator and Palaniswami the joint coordinator and that directive was for maintenance of the then existing dual power structure.
The order had established Palaniswami's position as the single, supreme leader of the AIADMK then.
Days later, the Supreme Court had dismissed OPS's plea against the Madras high court order directing him to hand over the keys of the party headquarters to Palaniswami.
Further, on March 28, a single judge had rejected the pleas filed by OPS and his aides against the party's July 11 general council resolutions.
Justice K Kumaresh Babu 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.
On Friday, a division bench comprising Justices R Mahadevan and Mohamed Shafiq refused to interfere with the expulsion of Panneerselvam from the party.
The bench dismissed the appeals filed by Panneerselvam and his aides R Vaithilingam, Paul Manoj Pandian and J C D Prabhakar challenging the March 28 order of the single judge, where the court refused to interfere with the July 2022 resolutions passed by the AIADMK general council.
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.
Responding to the division bench verdict given today, Palaniswami said "justice was on our side", and therefore the favourable ruling.
"This is a verdict for justice, Dharma and truth," he told reporters.
AIADMK advocate I S Inbadurai said the HC bench had dismissed the plea by OPS and others, where they had contended that the AIADMK general council resolutions are invalid.
The bench "has confirmed that the AIADMK is functioning under the leadership" of Palaniswami, he said.
"Also, the court has accepted that the GC is the higher body and its decisions are final," vis-a-vis the party affairs, he added.
The AIADMK is the principal opposition party in Tamil Nadu with Palaniswami currently the Leader of Opposition in the state assembly.