HC dismisses OPS’ plea against single judge order on use of AIADMK symbol, flag

The Madras high court on Thursday dismissed the appeals filed by expelled AIADMK leader O Paneerselvam, challenging an order of a single judge which restrained him from using the official letterhead, reserved symbol ‘Two Leaves’ and the official flag of the party.

A division bench comprising Justices R Mahadevan and Mohammed Shaffiq dismissed the three appeals filed by Paneerselvam against the order dated November 7, 2023.

The bench however, granted liberty to Paneerselvam (OPS) to approach the single judge by filing necessary applications seeking to vacate the order, if any, passed against him. On filing of such application, the judge shall consider and pass appropriate orders, on its own merits and in accordance with law, the bench added.

Originally, on a suit filed by AIADMK general secretary and former Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami, Justice N Sathishkumar had in November last passed an interim order, restraining OPS from using the party letterhead, symbol and flag. Aggrieved, Paneerselvam filed the present appeals.

The bench said, “we refrain from dealing with the merits or otherwise of the contentions raised on the side of the appellant (OPS) as well as the respondent (Palaniswami). By the order dated November 7, 2023, which is impugned in these writ appeals, interim injunction was granted by the judge till November 30, 2023.”

“In the ordinary course, the said applications would have been listed again on November 30,2023 for further consideration. If the appellant is in any manner aggrieved by the interim order, it is very well open to him to file application(s) to vacate the same, and without doing so, the present appeals have been filed before this Court invoking Clause 15 of the Letters Patent.”

It added the law was well settled that when no final orders have been passed by the judge determining any right or liability affecting the merits of the disputes as between the parties, no appeal would lie under clause 15 of the Letters Patent.

Admittedly, in the instant case, the judge has not passed any final order, but only granted interim injunction, that too, for a limited period till . This, in no way affects the valuable right/claim of the appellant to be agitated in the case pending before the judge. Hence, the order impugned in these appeals filed by the appellant does not fall within the scope and ambit of ‘judgement’ in clause 15 of the Letters Patent, the bench added.

That apart, the bench said, it was to be noted that the order dated November 7, 2023 passed by the judge, as an interim measure, was based on a sound discretion vested on him, in the interest of justice.

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Such discretion exercised by the judge cannot be normally interfered with by the appellate forum unless it was pointed out that the order was passed on the basis of irrelevant materials or on improper appreciation of facts of the case. Such aspects were conspicuously absent in the present case, the court added.

The bench said furthermore, the judge had granted the interim injunction purportedly with an intention to grant opportunity to the appellant to defend his case and to pass appropriate orders thereafter. As such, the averrments raised in the present appeals that the judge did not grant sufficient opportunity to the appellant to put forth his submissions, cannot be countenanced.

It was always open to the appellant to file his counter statement to the applications filed by Palaniswami seeking interim reliefs. If any such counter statement was filed, the same will also be taken into account by the single judge while dealing with the applications and appropriate orders will be passed on merits.

“Therefore, we do not find any infirmity or irregularity in the grant of interim injunction, that too for a limited period”, the bench added.

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