The TTV Dhinakaran group can feel truly elated for having got the benefit of a rather unusual order, hitherto unheard of, from the Supreme Court. We always knew, believed and conceded that our top court was the most powerful institution in India; even the world, considering the sweep of its powers and remit over its writ.
But this order on TTV symbol takes the cake as it says: "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 Constitue-ncies (18 in Tamil Nadu and 1 in Puducherry), the aforesaid candidates be allotted any one particular free symbol."
"We also make it clear 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. We also make it clear 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," the order went on to say. This clearly cuts across so many constitutional consequences, in one fell swoop; mind boggling to any student of constitutional law.
The TTV group failed to get the 'Two Leaves' symbol. Though they formed AMMK, they are admittedly not a recognised political party vide Sec.29-A of Representation of Peoples Act. They are but a conglomeration or group of individuals owing sustenance and loyalty to the local chieftain with the admitted blessing of VK Sasikala. Their commonality is traceable to the allegiance of the 49 candidates to the entities and not any political party, by definition and reality.
In such a scenario, the law does not give them the right to a common symbol as a group. They are but independents contesting with a common agenda, if at all. If so, each candidate, as an independent, would be entitled for allotment of different symbols from the basket of free symbols, by the ECI. That would be the usual order or normal rule.
To get over this legal hurdle, insurmountable as an unrecognised political party, TTV group sought allotment of 'pressure cooker' as a 'common' free symbol for all their 59 candidates in the fray -- the same pressure cooker that cooked the goose of both DMK & AIADMK in the infamous RK Nagar by-poll. ECI strongly opposed any such possibility pointing out the failure of AMMK to get itself registered under Sec29-A. The Supreme Court concurred and refused to yield to the prayer from the group. What followed is the quite unusual order reiterating the supremacy of the Supreme Court as the definitive institution amidst us.
Under Art.324 of the Constitution, once the elections are notified - ECI is the lord of all it surveys. Their writ runs and that is how/where, TN Seshan became larger than life. And thanks to his overreaching ways, we have an electoral system which truly promises free and fair poll. ECI can even ride roughshod and yet law allows. But alas, ECI's writ ends now where the apex court's begins.
The unusual nature of the order springs from the commonality in the choice of free symbols to all the 59 independents contesting under the TTV umbrella. Now, the order is worded so guardedly. It does not direct ECI to consider a common symbol, which is what the usual orders would be couched in. The Supreme Court would then be seen to be recognising the exclusive terrain of ECI to whom the symbol allotment process belongs, as the framers intended. ECI could have declined too. But not now....