Thursday, Mar 22, 2018 | Last Update : 07:31 AM IST
Mr Rohatgi wanted the EC to go ahead with Friday’s hearing as scheduled.
New Delhi: T.T.V. Dhinakaran, deputy general secretary of the AIADMK, suffered a setback on Friday when the Supreme Court refused to grant him more time to file reply to the Election Commission in the dispute pertaining to the right to the “two leaves” symbol and to defer Friday’s hearing bef-ore the commission.
Disposing of two special leave petitions filed by Mr Dhinakaran, a three-jud-ge bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra, Justices A.M. Kanwilkar and D.Y. Chandrachud, however, asked the Election Comm-ission to render the final decision in the “symbol” dispute by November 10, instead of October 31 as directed by the Madurai bench of the Madras HC.
Senior counsel Ashok Desai, appearing for Mr Dhinakaran, submitted that the petitioner was only seeking further time as the other side (Edapadi Palanichamy and O. Panneerselvam) had filed over 10,000 affidavits, 3,000 of which are retractions from earlier position. “We need a reasonable time to examine the affidavits and file our response,” he said and prayed for postponement of Friday’s hearing.
Senior counsel Mukul Rohatgi, C.S. Vaidynath-an, Guru Krishnakumar and Balaji Srinivasan strongly opposed the plea. Mr Rohatgi submitted that the apex court should not interfere in the functions of the EC, which is a constitutional body. He said the commission would not decide the issue on the basis of number of affidavits alone, but only the basis of the majority enjoyed by the respective groups.
He said Mr Dhinakaran with 19 MLAs and six MPs was not interested in the symbol, but only wanted to delay the decision.
On the other hand, he said “we have a majority of MLAs and 43 MPs and majority of 2,100 General Council members as existed prior to December 5, 2016, (when Jayalalithaa died) on our side.” Mr Rohatgi wanted the EC to go ahead with Friday’s hearing as scheduled.
In its order, the bench said the Election Commission has the authority under the Representation of the People Act, 1951, and Election Symbols (Reservation and Allotment) Order, 1968, to decide who is entitled to retain the symbol in case of dispute. It said, “We will be failing in our duty, if we do not say that because of the direction issued by the high court, the Election Commission of India is likely to perceive that the guillotine must come within the time fixed. We do not so perceive. Be that as it may.”
The Bench said “Regard being had to the facts and circumstances of the case, we request that the Election Commission of India may commence hearing today at 4.00 p.m.. The Election Commission shall dispose of the proceedings expeditiously and preferably by 10th November 2017. We repeat at the cost of repetition that the Election Commission is a constitutional functionary and we are absolutely certain that it shall be guided by the procedure known to law. The special leave petitions are accordingly disposed of.”