The Supreme Court on April 23 dismissed the plea for review of its March, 2019 decision by which the political faction led by former AIADMK leader T. T. V. Dhinakaran was denied the 'pressure cooker' symbol, that it had hoped to employ exclusively for the 2019 Lok Sabha polls and the assembly bye-elections.
Dismissing the review petition, the bench of Chief Justice S. A. Bobde and Justices Deepak Gupta and Sanjiv Khanna stated, "We have perused the Review Petition and the connected papers. We do not find any error in the order impugned, much less an apparent error on the face of the record, so as to call for its review"
The review petition filed in the name of AMMK President V. K. Sasikala, a close confidante of late Tamil Nadu Chief Minister and AIADMK chief J. Jayalalithaa, was heard in chamber on April 23.
Dhinakaran had fought a long and protracted battle for the election symbol of "two leaves", which claim was rejected by the Election Commission of India, two Benches of the High Court and virtually by the Supreme Court also by its order of March 15, 2019, by which a limited notice was issued to explore the possibility of allotment of the symbol of "pressure cooker" to the faction. It was this limited aspect of the matter that had receive the consideration of the Court in its judgment of March 26, 2019.
"The claim of the appellant to the symbol of 'pressure cooker' in an exclusive manner cannot be acknowledged in view of the provisions of Section 29A of the Representation of the People Act, 1951 and the guidelines issued by the Election Commission of India thereunder, which the appellant or his group has concededly not followed. We are, therefore, not inclined to grant any recognition to the appellant or his group to the symbol of 'pressure cooker'", the Court had observed at the outset in the impugned judgment.
However, "to ensure a level playing field to the contesting parties in the forthcoming Parliamentary elections and the bye-elections in Tamil Nadu and Puducherry Legislative Assemblies", the bench headed by then-Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi had proceeded to take on record the list of names pertaining to candidates of 39 Parliamentary Constituencies in Tamil Nadu and 1 Parliamentary Constituency in Puducherry and 19 in the bye-elections to the Tamil Nadu and Puducherry Legislative Assemblies, which persons, the appellant had claimed, intended to contest the forthcoming election.
"The Election Commission of India on due and proper satisfaction that the candidates named in the document marked with the letter 'X' want to contest the election under any one common symbol, will make all endeavour to ensure that in the forthcoming elections i.e. 40 Parliamentary Constituencies (39 in Tamil Nadu and 1 in Puducherry) and 19 Assembly Constituencies (18 in Tamil Nadu and 1 in Puducherry), the aforesaid candidates be allotted any one particular free symbol", the three-judge bench had deemed appropriate to direct.
The top court had further clarified that "this order will not amount to recognition of the group or any part thereof as a political party registered or unregistered, which decision the Election Commission of India alone would take as and when required".
Finally, the bench had stipulated that "in the event any of the candidates mentioned in the list marked with the letter 'X' is to be elected, such candidate will be counted as an independent candidate and not belonging to any political party for all purposes including for the purposes of the Tenth Schedule of the Constitution".
Dhinakaran was challenging the Delhi High Court order allotting the 'two leaves' symbol to the AIADMK faction led by Tamil Nadu Chief Minister E. K. Palaniswami on the limited aspect of allowing use of 'pressure cooker' as a common symbol.The High Court had dismissed the grievance of Dhinakaran and Sasikala against the EC order assigning 'AIADMK' name and 'two leaves' symbol to the Palaniswami-led faction.
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