The Madras High Court on Friday declared as null and void the elections held on June 23 for the South Indian Artistes’ Association (SIAA), popularly known as the Nadigar Sangam, and ordered fresh elections within three months after a complete overhaul of the voters’ list.
Justice K. Kalyanasundaram delivered the verdict on a batch of cases filed both in favour and against the elections held last year. He appointed former High Court judge B. Gokuldas as an election officer, entrusted with the responsibility of supervising the election of new office-bearers.
“Fresh voters’ list shall be prepared after verification, and the same shall be notified. Fresh election notification shall also be issued as per bylaws. Members of the petitioner association and the Government of Tamil Nadu shall provide all assistance, including police protection, and extend fullest cooperation to the election officer for the conduct of free and fair election,” the judge said. “The decision of the election officer is final with regard to the issues relating to the election process. If there is any dispute/grievance/clarification, it is open to all parties to approach this court for getting appropriate orders,” the judge added. He also accepted the submission of Additional Advocate General P.H. Arvindh Pandian that a special officer, appointed by the government, should be allowed to continue to discharge her duties, until the results of the fresh elections are declared, and the new office-bearers assume office.
It was further ordered that SIAA should pay an initial remuneration of ₹2.5 lakh to Mr. Gokuldas for conducting the elections.
Justice Kalyanasundaram also held that the three-year tenure of former SIAA president M. Nasser, general secretary Vishal, treasurer Karthi and other office-bearers, who got elected in 2015, had come to an end on October 18, 2018, and all actions taken by them, pursuant to that date, should be considered invalid in law.
He pointed out that Section 15(4) of the Tamil Nadu Societies Registration Act of 1975 categorically states that the term of office of the members of the committee should not exceed three years. Further clause 37 of the bylaws of the association also provide for conduct of election of office bearers once in three years.
“Such being the legal position, the term of the Executive Committee (of SIAA) could not have been extended by way of a resolution passed at the general body meeting that too on the ground that the construction of a convention hall and office premises was in progress,” the judge said.
Consequently, a meeting convened by the Executive Committee on April 28 for the purpose of conducting elections and the elections conducted by it on June 23 were invalid in law and not binding on the members of the association, he ruled.