New Delhi, Mar 26:
The Election Commission told the Supreme Court Monday that it can allot a common symbol of “pressure cooker” to an individual but not to an unregistered group led by former AIADMK leader TTV Dhinakaran and V K Sasikala in Tamil Nadu.
Dhinakaran told the apex court that the EC’s stand would force the candidates of AMMK party led by him to contest the upcoming Lok Sabha elections on different symbols.
A bench of Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justices Deepak Gupta had asked senior advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for Dhinakaran, as to when is the last date of filing nominations for Lok Sabha polls. Sibal informed that the last date of filing of nomination is Tuesday itself and if the party is not allotted the symbol its candidates will have to contest on different symbols.
He said that candidates of rival parties will win by default if a common symbol of ‘pressure cooker’ is not given to them. The bench then asked the EC official to apprise it as to why a common symbol was not given to the AMMK party.
The official said that as per the rules a common symbol cannot be given to the AMMK party which is not a registered political party. He said the election process has already started and it would be difficult to allot a common symbol.
“Where is your reply. You cannot just read from a piece of paper and say it cannot be given. Where are the reasons,” the bench said. The official replied that the court had not asked the poll panel to file its reply.
The bench, which was visibly unsatisfied with the reply of poll panel official perused the March 15 order and said that court has issued a notice to the EC. “We have issued a notice, why did you not file a detailed reply to their plea. Shall we invite the election commission to file a reply.
You file the affidavit in the course of the day. We will hear the case tomorrow,” the bench said. On March 15, the apex court had agreed to hear a plea of Dhinakaran and Sasikala challenging a Delhi High Court order granting the ‘two leaves’ symbol to a faction led by Tamil Nadu Chief Minister E K Palaniswami.
The court had issued a notice to the Election Commission on the limited plea of Dhinakaran that they be allowed to use ‘pressure cooker’ as a common symbol. At the outset, the Dhinakaran faction had claimed that EC is not giving them a common symbol despite a direction from the apex court to allot “pressure cooker’ as a common symbol to the party.
On February 28, the high court had dismissed the pleas of Dhinakaran and Sasikala challenging the EC order granting the ‘AIADMK’ name and the ‘two leaves’ symbol to the faction led by the Tamil Nadu chief minister, saying the figures showed the Palaniswami-led group “enjoyed a clear majority”.
Dhinakaran had floated Amma Makkal Munnetra Kazhagam (AMMK) after he and Sasikala were expelled from the Palaniswami-led AIADMK. The symbol issue has been lingering since April 2017 and the verdict came as a shot in the arm for the Palanisami-led AIADMK ahead of the Lok Sabha polls.
On November 23, 2017, the poll panel had ruled in favour of the Palaniswami-Panneerselvam faction by allotting the ‘two leaves’ symbol to them. Earlier, rival factions led by Sasikala and Panneerselvam had staked claim over the symbol. Palaniswami was then in the Sasikala camp.