The adage — history repeats itself — seems to have more relevance in respect of the AIADMK than other parties. This has been demonstrated through the sealing of MGR Maaligai, the AIADMK headquarters, on Avvai Shanmugam Salai at Royapettah in Chennai on Monday.
After 32 years, the property, measuring 10 grounds, was sealed yet again. It is for the third time in the history of the party, which is in its golden jubilee year, that the headquarters has suffered the treatment.
The first time the headquarters was sealed on January 31, 1988, following the split in the AIADMK after the death of party founder M.G. Ramachandran the previous month. There were two factions: one led by his widow Janaki Ramachandran, who succeeded MGR as the Chief Minister, and the other led by Jayalalithaa, who became the Chief Minister for the first time in June 1991. It was the former who bought the property in 1957 and donated it to her husband in July 1987. “Ever since the AIADMK was formed in October 1972, the property has been its headquarters,” points out K. Subramanian, former Advocate-General, who served as counsel for Jayalalithaa on both occasions.
W.I. Davaram, the Chennai Police Commissioner in January 1988, told the press then that the authorities had taken over the building because of a dispute between the two factions. What was significant was that the property was sealed in about 15 hours of the dismissal of the Ministry headed by Janaki Ramachandran and imposition of the President’s rule in the State.
The matter went to the Madras High Court and then to the Supreme Court. In May 1988, the Supreme Court ordered that Janaki Ramachandran hold possession of the headquarters as the “receiver” for two months, during which the Additional District Magistrate had to dispose of the matter. It also set aside the order issued by the High Court in March 1988, quashing the proceedings before the Magistrate. Further, the Supreme Court held unsustainable the ex parte temporary injunction of the High Court in April that year, restraining the Jayalalithaa group from interfering with the possession of the headquarters.
Two months later (July 1988), the Additional District Magistrate directed Janaki Ramachandran to hand over possession of the party office to the Jayalalithaa faction, an order she complied with. On January 31, 1989, the High Court, while allowing a revision petition filed by Janaki Ramachandran, quashed the Additional District Magistrate’s order. A week later, this was stayed by the Supreme Court. Around the same time, certain political events took place, leading to the merger of the two factions. It was in late January that the results of the Assembly election came out and the AIADMK faction, led by the MGR’s widow, fared badly. On February 10, 1989, the two factions formally came together and Jayalalithaa became the general secretary of the unified party. As a result, the headquarters remained under her control.
The second time the headquarters was sealed was on August 12, 1990, when a rebel group, led by S. Thirunavukkarasar (now in the Congress and Tiruchi MP), went into the premises and was chased out by a group of party members owing allegiance to Jayalalithaa. A clash ensued, leading to the locking up of the premises. At that time, the controversy broke out over who locked the headquarters — the police or revenue officials. The then Chennai Police Commissioner, K.K. Rajasekharan Nair, asserted the police had not done the sealing.
As the Supreme Court was seized of the matter, the possession of the party remained with the executive magistrate for nearly four months. It was in December 1990 that the court restored the headquarters to the party and permitted Mr. Subramanian, counsel for Jayalalithaa, to collect the keys from the magistrate. “On December 19, 1990, I handed over the keys to Jayalalithaa in Bengaluru where she was resting,” recalls Mr. Subramanian.
Talking of the significance of Section 145 [which is invoked at the time of sealing any property] of the Code of Criminal Procedure (procedure where dispute over land or water is likely to cause breach of peace), Mr. Subramanian says the scope of the order passed by the Executive Magistrate under the Section will be only in relation to the person who is in actual physical possession of the property on the date of preliminary order. The very nature of the proceedings under the Section is only temporary. The right to possession will be decided by a civil court, he adds.