The Delhi High Court today directed the Election Commission to allot a common symbol, preferably that of 'pressure cooker', and a name to the AIADMK (Amma) faction led by T T V Dhinakaran.
Justice Rekha Palli asked the poll panel to pass an appropriate order allotting the symbol and name, as chosen by the Dhinakaran-V K Sasikala faction, within three weeks after giving them a hearing.
The order came on an application by Dhinakaran in his main petition challenging an EC order of November 23 last year, which had allotted the 'two leaves' symbol to the group headed by Tamil Nadu Chief Minister E K Palaniswami and his deputy O Panneerselvam who opposed grant of any relief in the matter.
The interim plea had sought the allocation of a name and symbol till the pendency of the main petition, claiming that otherwise the poll panel might declare it as a separate party.
Dhinakaran had asked for the pressure cooker symbol as under it he had in December last year won the Radha Krishnan Nagar Assembly by-election with a margin of over 40,000 votes.
He had also, during hearing of the application, suggested three names for his faction -- All India Amma Anna Dhravidar Munnetra Kazhagam, MGR Amma Dravidar Munnetra Kazhagam and MGR Amma Dhravidar Kazhagam.
The Palaniswami-Panneerselvam group had opposed Dhinakaran's plea on several grounds, including that his faction has to register itself as a separate party to get a name and symbol and that the appropriate forum for the matter was the Madras High Court.
Rejecting their contentions, the court said that Dhinakaran's faction cannot be compelled to register as a new political party and then apply to EC for a symbol as then his plea laying claim to the two-leaves symbol would become a fait accompli.
Another reason given by the court to reject the Palaniswami-Panneerselvam group's contention was that there had been "no final determination of the question as to which is the splinter group and which group truly/actually represents the AIADMK party".
On the issue of jurisdiction, it said that merely because most of the respondents, who belong to the Palaniswami-Panneerselvam group, are situated in Tamil Nadu, does not take away the jurisdiction of the Delhi High Court to hear the matter.
"This is especially so since the respondents 2 to 5 (part of the Palaniswami-Panneerselvam group), who are situated in the State of Tamil Nadu, are neither the subjects of the interim relief prayed for nor affected (let alone prejudiced) by such an interim relief, if granted," the court said.
It also noted that the group led by Palaniswami have been entitled to the exclusive use of the AIADMK party name and 'two leaves' symbol and "would not be prejudiced by an order allotting a separate non-identical common symbol to the splinter group".
"The only reason, which is not very difficult to gauge, why respondents 2 to 5 are objecting to the present interim application is to deny the petitioner and his group a level playing field in the political sphere, which a writ court (which is not only a court of record but also a court of equity) ought not to permit," it said.
The EC in March last year had given the 'hat' symbol to the Sasikala-Dhinakaran group after it froze the use of the 'two-leaves' symbol to which the group led by Palaniswami and Panneerselvam had also laid claim. The Palaniswami-Panneerselvam faction had at the same time been granted the 'electric pole' symbol.
However, on November 23, 2017, the poll panel had ruled in favour of the Palaniswami-Panneerselvam faction by allotting the 'two-leaves' symbol to them.
The symbol issue has been lingering since April last in the aftermath of the announcement of the by-poll to Radha Krishnan Nagar constituency in Tamil Nadu following the death of AIADMK supremo J Jayalalithaa in December 2016.
Earlier, rival factions led by Sasikala and Panneerselvam had staked claim over the symbol. Palaniswami was then in the Sasikala camp. Later, a large number of legislators led by Palaniswami revolted against Sasikala.