Political party

supreme court: the courts cannot interfere with the internal functions of a political party: Supreme Court

Observing that the courts cannot interfere with the internal workings of a political party, the Supreme Court on Wednesday suspended an order of the Madras High Court, which had restricted the passing of resolutions at the general council meeting of the ‘AIADMK.

A vacation bench of Justices Dinesh Maheshwari and Krishna Murari suspended the HC’s June 23 order on a plea filed by EK Palaniswami. The SC clarified that the AIADMK general council can hold other meetings according to the law, refusing to suspend the July 11 meeting.

On June 23, a Madras HC divisive bench had prevented the AIADMK General Council from passing a resolution. The Divisional Bench has issued an order in an intra-court appeal filed by M Shanmugham, AIADMK General Council Member belonging to Camp O Paneerselvam, against a single Bench Order passed earlier today . The single bench had refused to prevent the party from making changes to its statutes.

The dispute concerns the modification of the dual leadership structure of the AIADMK. Disputes had arisen between the two leaders, with Palaniswami’s camp seeking a unitary leadership.

In its request for special leave, the Palaniswami Group claimed that at the June 23 general council, most members had asked for the dual leadership model to be abolished.

The High Court verbally observed that the HC Division Bench exceeded its jurisdiction by passing orders that amounted to interference in the internal workings of a political party.

Referring to the order issued by the HC, the High Court orally remarked that said instruction “is tantamount to the court telling the party how it should operate”.

The SC, in its order, said: “It can be clarified that, although the meeting of June 23 has already taken place, but in view of the new measures/procedures initiated or likely to be initiated…it seems necessary and expedient that the operation of the order (by Madras HC) will remain suspended until further order of this court.”

Appearing on behalf of Palaniswami, Senior Solicitor CS Vaidyanathan informed the SC bench that contempt petitions have been launched for the party meeting. The SC said that if contempt proceedings have been brought, then it will have to review the legality of the order. He observed that the single bench of the HC had done well not to interfere with the meeting of the general council. However, the same was reversed by the HC division bench.

Appearing on behalf of the Paneerselvam Group, Lead Counsel Maninder Singh argued that the Single Bench did not record any reasons in the Order and added that the Divisional Bench adopted a Reasoned Order. Regarding the concern expressed by the bench about the contempt proceedings, Singh said the divisional bench’s order only pertains to the June 23 meeting.

The SC observed orally: “Can the court give an instruction on how to conduct a meeting? … Why should matters be decided in a judicial forum rather than in general counsel?”

Sending notices to respondents on Paneerselvam’s SLP, the SC said the expectation of the instant plea “would be of no hurdle” in the single bench of Madras HC dealing with civil suits considering the case.