Strikes off suit filed by S. Ramesh against S.R. Trust

The Madras High Court in Madurai on Wednesday imposed a cost of Rs.1 lakh on S. Ramesh, elder son of N. Sethuraman, the founder president of S.R. Trust, which manages Meenakshi Mission Hospital and Research Centre in Madurai, for suppression of facts before a lower court.

Justice S. Palanivelu also struck off a civil suit filed by Mr. Ramesh against the trust before an Additional Sub Court. The orders were passed while allowing a civil revision petition filed by the trust, its founder president, his wife Rajam Sethuraman, their younger son S. Gurusankar and another.

The judge said the trust was constituted by means of a registered declaration of trust deed on May 9, 1985. The objects of the trust were to serve the people by providing medical relief to the sick, disabled and handicapped and to promote research besides establishing medical institutions. As per the deed, Mr. Sethuraman would be the founder president of the trust and his wife would be secretary of the Board of Trustees. It authorised the president to nominate and appoint additional trustee or remove any trustee according to his will at any time.

On June 20, 2003, a supplementary deed was executed to fill up two vacancies and the sons of the founder president were appointed as trustees for life time. Subsequently, on July 22, 2005, Mr. Ramesh was appointed as Director of Academics for administering the educational institutions run the trust.

The legal battle in the family began on November 26, 2010 when Ms. Brathibha, the founder-president’s daughter filed a civil suit before the Principal District Court here for declaring her as one of the trustees. Then, Mr. Ramesh filed a memo in support of her before the lower court. His action prompted the trust to issue a show cause notice to him for having indulged in anti-trust activities. He was called upon to give an explanation within seven days. He received the notice on February 9 last year, but did not respond to it leading to his removal from the trust on February 17, 2011.

In the meantime, Mr. Ramesh filed a suit before the Principal District Court challenging a clause in the trust deed which empowers the founder president to order removal of a trustee and also seeking a permanent injunction restraining the trustees from removing him from the post.

He also filed an application seeking interim injunction but could not succeed in obtaining the interim relief. Subsequently, he filed another suit before the Additional Sub Court on April 6, 2011 and obtained an interim order in his favour without disclosing the filing of the earlier suit before the Principal District Court.

“Hence, this court is of the considered view that imposition of costs of Rs. 1 lakh on the respondent would be more appropriate. Such imposition of costs will send a signal that the party who abuses the process of court and suppresses material facts from the court has to face penal consequences besides losing his case,” Mr. Justice Palanvelu said.

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