Ordering for a fresh election within three months, the Madras High Court on Friday (January 24), declared the elections held to the South Indian Artistes Association, apex body of actors, in June last year as null and void.
The court also said the Special Officer appointed by the government shall continue to discharge her duties till declaration of the results and the new office bearers assume office.
Justice K Kalyana Sundaram, who passed the order on various petitions filed on the matter, directed that elections to the posts of office-bearers of the association be conducted afresh within three months and appointed Justice B Gokuldas as the election officer.
“In the ultimate analysis, this Court has no hesitation to hold that the decisions taken by the Executive Committee of the petitioner association in the meetings held after the expiry of their tenure i.e., on 18.10.2018 and the actions taken pursuant to the same are invalid in law and not binding on the members of the Association,” he said in the order.
The court had earlier stayed counting of votes in view of alleged irregularities in postal ballots and that the announcement for the elections was issued after the tenure of the office-bearers ended.
The Tamil Nadu government had informed the court that the elections were invalid as they were not conducted in accordance with the bylaws of the association. The series of litigations started after the Registrar of Societies passed an order deferring the election to the association indefinitely in view of the allegations that name of 61 members were allegedly removed from the rolls just days before the election.
Challenging the order, actor Vishal, the general secretary of the association, moved the high court. After several rounds of hearings, the high court finally permitted the conduct of election on June 23 last year. There were allegations that the state government was interfering in the affairs of the association by appointing a special officer to manage the affairs of the body.
The state government through its counsel submitted that the Registrar of Societies had every right to inquire into the complaints filed by members of the association and if needed to appoint special officers to monitor the affairs of the association.
The state further stated that as per bye-laws of the association, there is no provision to extend the tenure of the existing office bearers and hence the election conducted by office bearers whose term were expired are invalid.
(With inputs from PTI)