Condemns litigants for writing intimidating letters to judges
“As indicated in Mahabharata, the fight among the people of Yadhava community appears to continue ever since the departure of Lord Krishna and the present litigation is reflective of the same,” is how the Madras High Court Bench here described the long-standing legal fight between members of Yadhavar Kalvi Nidhi, a registered society that owns several educational institutions here.
Disposing of a batch of 12 writ petitions related to the society, Justice V. Ramasubramanian said that it was formed in 1962 and got registered under the Societies Registration Act, 1860 with the object of establishing high schools, arts and science colleges and engineering and technological institutes primarily for the benefit of students belonging to the Yadhava community.
“To grab power and indulge in perennial litigation was certainly not one of the objects for which the society was formed,” the judge said and pointed out that the members of the society were divided into two categories — those who paid a donation of a particular amount and more and those who paid less. The bylaws of the society contemplated constitution of a management committee called Governing Council.
The Governing Council comprised 41 members of whom 20 were elected from the first category and 21 from the second category. The council was supposed to elect a set of office-bearers, including president, vice-president, treasurer, general secretary and auditor among its members. In 1969, the society established its first government-aided educational institution — Yadhava College — at Thiruppalai here.
Thereafter, several disputes arose in the management of the society as well as the college “leading to utter chaos and confusion” since 2000. A number of writ petitions as well as civil suits were filed as part of the dispute. In 2008, five people — C. Gopalakrishnan, T. Solaimalai, S. Santhakrishnan and K. Santhakaruppasamy together and K.P. Navaneetha Krishnan — staked claim for the post of secretary.
In 2009, the Director of Collegiate Education (DCE) accepted the claim of K.P. Navaneetha Krishnan and rejected the claim of others for certain reasons. The acceptance became a subject matter of another round of litigation. In 2011, three different individuals lodged a complaint against Mr. Krishnan with the Inspector General of Registration accusing him of indulging in illegal activities.
The Inspector General conducted an enquiry into the allegations and submitted a report before the High Court Bench in March, 2012 recommending appointment of a Special Officer. In the meantime, the DCE passed an order on February 27, 2012 rejecting all proposals for approval of secretary and directed the Regional Joint Director of Collegiate Education to disburse salaries to the college staff directly.
The DCE also ordered that the government would pay the salaries directly till the conclusion of disputes between the warring groups. Thereafter, the Regional Joint Director restrained some of the college staff from entering the institution in view of criminal cases booked against them and also ordered reversion of the Principal (in-charge) K. Alagu Sundaram as the Head of the Department of Commerce.
All these incidents since 2011 had been challenged in the present batch of 12 writ petitions. Upholding the validity of the enquiry initiated by the IG of Registration, the judge said: “Due to the perennial litigation between rival groups, the heat was already increasing and the surcharged atmosphere required only a small spark in the form of some complaints, to catch fire (in the form of a suo motu enquiry).”
Also not finding any illegality in the DCE having resorted to direct payment of salaries to college staff, the judge said: “The college receives grant-in-aid from the government. After making payment of grant in the fond hope that the college will fulfill the aspirations of the student community, all the government got back in return were only court notices and never ending litigation in civil, criminal and writ courts.”
However, the judge quashed an order passed by the Regional Joint Director of Collegiate Education on June 18, 2012 calling upon Mr. Navaneetha Krishnan to hand over records relating to the self financing section of the college as well as its hostel. The judge said that the Joint Director could not interfere with the self financing courses conducted by the college.
He also quashed orders passed by the Regional Joint Director restraining a few college staff from entering the college on the ground that the officer lacked jurisdiction to initiate disciplinary action against the employees. Mr. Justice Ramasubramanian further held that the officer had acted in a high handed manner by ordering reversion of the Principal (in-charge) without any reason.
Mr. Justice Ramasubramanian finally directed the State Government to consider appointment of a Special Officer to administer the affairs of the college. He also condemned some of the parties to the litigation for exhibiting a kind of cantankerousness by writing letters to the judges, High Court Registrars and government officials in a manner intimidating everyone.
While one of the litigants M. Mei Yadav was in the habit of writing letters in his own name, others resorted to the tactics of writing pseudonymous letters in names of the students of the college. Another litigant S. Santhanakrishnan who argued the case in person and also appeared on behalf of two others, without any authority, was not only a member of the society but also the husband of a staff of a subordinate court.
“The anonymous and pseudonymous letters written by the parties to this litigation, unfortunately resulted in some of my predecessors recusing themselves from these cases… Interestingly, the pseudonymous letters disclose a particular pattern… and contain enormous information that could not have been accessed by the students without the assistance of parties appearing in person in these writ petitions,” the judge said