Elections to the South Indian Artists’ Association (SIAA) or Nadigar Sangam will be held on June 23, as scheduled.
In a special late-night hearing yesterday, the Madras High Court quashed the postponement of elections. An announcement on the venue is expected this afternoon after approval from the Chennai city police.
The court ordered that while the elections will not be stalled, ballot boxes must be kept in safe custody and the counting of votes cannot take place until further orders. The next hearing is on July 8.
Justice PD Audikesavalu presided the hearing yesterday. He said that the Societies Registration Act of Tamil Nadu, 1975, does not empower the registrar to stall elections, especially after the election notification has been issued. According to a report by The Hindu, the judge agreed with E Omprakash, who represented the Nadigar Sangam, and said, “It is a trite law that an electoral process which has commenced shall not normally be interdicted till it reaches its logical conclusion and as such, it would be highly improper to cancel the election at this distance of time.”
The judge said the elections were stalled by the Registrar on the basis of a complaint by the 61 members who alleged illegal termination, but such decisions must be taken by the civil court and a civil suit was already pending to look into the matter. He further observed that the contention by the Registrar and others that the office-bearers had extended their term by more than six months, was not a reason to delay elections further.
About deciding the venue for elections, he said he could not interfere since that case was under Justice N Anand Venkatesh of the Madras HC and the Sangam must approach him for further orders.
On Thursday, the court said that the termination of the 61 members was valid, ruling in favour of the Sangam which argued that disciplinary action was taken against the members, for various reasons, after discussion with the general body. The decision was taken over two years ago. The order to stall election was issued by the District Registrar in response to a complaint by the 61 members earlier this month. Vishal moved court against the order saying the Registrar did not have powers to interfere as election was already announced by the retired judge appointed by the court, and said that the Registrar was acting with the intent to disrupt elections.
The elections also faced issues when the government recently asked for a change in location citing difficulty to provide protection at the original venue, MGR Janaki College in RA Puram, Chennai. Vishal approached the court accusing the police of refusing to provide security, but the court asked for a change in location citing traffic issues.
3,172 members from across the state are expected to vote in the elections tomorrow. Nasser, Vishal, and Karthi are contesting under Pandavar Ani, while Bhagiyaraj, Udhaya, and Kutty Padmini are standing opposite them under Sankardas Ani.