11:45 AM, Friday,17 November 2023
The Madras High Court on Thursday reserved its judgment on an appeal preferred by the AIADMK’s expelled leader, O. Panneerselvam, against a restraint order preventing him from using the party flag, symbol and letterhead, and from claiming to be the coordinator or even a primary member of the party.
Justices R. Mahadevan and Mohammed Shaffiq deferred their verdict after senior counsel P.H. Arvindh Pandian and Abdul Saleem, representing the appellant, and senior counsel Vijay Narayan, representing AIADMK general secretary Edappadi K. Palaniswami, questioned the maintainability of the cases filed by each other.
Opening the arguments for the appellant, Mr. Pandian said Justice N. Sathish Kumar had on November 7 granted an interim injunction restraining his client from using the party flag, symbol and letterhead without giving decisive findings on the legal issues of balance of convenience and irreparable loss.
He said the single judge ought to have granted time to Mr. Panneerselvam to file his counter-affidavit to the interim injunction applications before passing any order and urged the Division Bench to set aside the November 7 interim order and remit the matter to the single judge for deciding it after the filing of a counter- affidavit.
The senior counsel further said a civil suit filed by his client last year challenging his expulsion was pending in the High Court and only interim relief had been denied. The denial of interim relief in that suit could not be a reason for grant of interim injunction in a suit filed by Mr. Palaniswami this year, he argued.
Mr. Saleem questioned the maintainability of the civil suit filed by Mr. Palaniswami before the single judge on the ground that only the party, not an individual claiming to be its general secretary, could file such a suit seeking an injunction against the use of its flag, symbol and letterhead.
Claiming that the legal challenge to the expulsion of Mr. Panneerselvam had not attained finality yet, he said that in such circumstances, there could not be an injunction against the use of the party flag, symbol and letterhead. He also contended that the plaintiff had failed to provide a description of the flag before seeking an injunction.
Mr. Narayan argued that the present appeal filed by Mr. Panneerselvam against the interim injunction was not maintainable at all. The interim relief granted by the single judge on November 7 would not fall under the definition of the term ‘judgment’ as found in Clause 15 of the Letters Patent and therefore, was not appealable, he argued.
The senior counsel further said the only course open to the appellant would be to file a counter-affidavit before the single judge, along with an application to vacate the interim injunction. Though the injunction had been granted till November 30, 2023, the appellant need not wait till then and could approach the judge before that, he added.
He also brought it to the notice of the Division Bench that the single judge had granted the interim injunction only after finding that Mr. Panneerselvam had not filed his counter-affidavit despite grant of adjournments on two occasions. Even on the third occasion, he ended up seeking more time to file the counter (affidavit), the senior counsel said.
"The appellant could have shown the same alacrity that he is showing now before the single judge too,” the senior counsel said, expressing surprise over the High Court Registry having numbered the appeal.