Madurai, Sep 15 (PTI) The Madras High Court today directed the Election Commission to decide before October 31 the matter related to the AIADMK’s ‘two leaves’ symbol, frozen by the poll body in March after two factions of the party staked claim to it.

A bench comprising justices K K Sasidharan and G R Swaminathan directed the EC to decide which faction enjoyed majority in the ruling party in Tamil Nadu and allot the ‘two leaves’ symbol to it before October 31.

It said there was an urgency to decide the matter in view of local body elections in the state to be completed before November 17, as directed by a court.

The court was passing orders on a petition by B Ramkumar Adityan, an AIADMK member and advocate, who had sought a direction to conduct an election among the party’s General Council and Executive Committee and MLAs and MPs, totalling 3,100 to decide who enjoyed majority.

The petition was filed on August 22, a day after the two factions led by Chief Minister K Palaniswami and his predecessor O Panneerselvam merged, sidelining jailed party chief V K Sasikala and her deputy T T V Dhinakaran.

The EC had on March 22 issued an interim order freezing the ‘two leaves’ election symbol of AIADMK, saying both the factions (then headed by V K Sasikala and Panneerselvam) cannot use the party symbol as well as its name for the April 12 RK Nagar Assembly bypoll, which was later rescinded over alleged use of money power to lure voters.

The judges directed the EC to fix a deadline and direct the rival factions to submit their documents and affidavits within the period so that the issue could be decided before October 31.

“Before the local bodies elections are held, the issue should be decided by the EC,” they said in their order.

They also observed that the EC could not indefinitely postpone the issue as it would affect the political parties and their activities.

They noted that the proceedings had commenced on March 16 last and it was true that the rival groups were responsible for the delay in submitting documents in support of their claims.

The judges also directed the rival factions to extend their cooperation to the EC.

The commission had passed the interim order freezing the symbol saying there was little time available with it to issue a final order before the last date for filing of nominations for the bypoll (which was March 23).

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.