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'Can't seal party offices': SC tells expelled AIADMK leader O Panneerselvam

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'Can't seal party offices': SC tells expelled AIADMK leader O Panneerselvam

"Allowing sealing of the office of a political party may be misused and have wide repercussions, which will not be appropriate in a democratic setup," the top court said.

"In democracy, a political party cannot be stopped from functioning by sealing its office", observed the Supreme Court Monday as it dismissed the plea of ousted AIADMK leader O Panneerselvam (OPS) against the Madras High Court order directing to hand over the keys of party headquarter to party chief K Palaniswami.

"Allowing sealing of the office of a political party may be misused and have wide repercussions, which will not be appropriate in a democratic setup," the top court said.

A bench of Justices DY Chandrachud and Hima Kohli said, "We will not interfere with the order of the High Court. You (OPS) are expelled from the party. If we allow you to enter the party office, it would be a disaster. Overall, this order of the High Court has maintained the peace, and nothing untoward has happened for the past two months".

The top court was hearing a plea of OPS challenging an order of July 20 of the Madras High Court, which had set aside the proceedings of the Tamil Nadu Revenue department locking and sealing of the AIADMK headquarters, following the July 11 violence and directed that the keys of the office be handed over to party chief K Palaniswami.

It said, "Allowing sealing of the office of a political party, may be misused and have wide repercussions, which will not be appropriate in a democratic setup. For a magistrate to attach the office of a political party is extraordinary. This means that you do not want a political party to function in a democracy".

Senior advocate Ranjeet Kumar, appearing for OPS said that there was a clash between two factions of the party workers and the magistrate relied on the photographs of the violence, after which it was sealed.

"The two factions may clash outside the party office but one cannot just go and seal the office. This is in no way justified", it said, adding that the High Court order was passed on July 20 and now it is September.

It said that for two months, this order of the High Court has brought peace, "let it be there", and "You can avail your remedy under the law".

On July 20, the High Court quashed the proceedings, while passing orders on the criminal original petitions from Palaniswami, the then party's interim general secretary.

It had directed the RDO/Executive Magistrate to remove the seal and hand over the keys to Palaniswami immediately and asked the Royapettah police to provide adequate protection to the office, round the clock, located on Avvai Shanmugam Salai.

No party cadres shall be allowed inside the office for one month to avoid any untoward incident, the High Court had added, while dismissing Panneerselvam's plea for granting possession of the party headquarters, 'MGR Maaligai,' to him.

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