High Court strikes down Leela Samson’s re-entry

Special Correspondent
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Judge says Kalakshetra Foundation is like a firm governed by Companies Act

Leela Samson
Leela Samson

Leela Samson cannot continue as the Director of the Kalakshetra Foundation at Tiruvanmiyur here, with the Madras High Court on Wednesday allowing a writ petition challenging her re-entry.

Justice S. Nagamuthu allowed the writ petition filed by Sai Sankar, Assistant Professor of Music in the foundation, and 15 others, all working in the Rukmini Devi College of Fine Arts.

A person who had resigned from the post of director could only be reappointed; but the resignation could not be withdrawn as it was not permissible in law. The petitioners said Ms. Samson was appointed on a short term contract. She resigned from her post and the same was accepted.

However, the Union Ministry of Culture without any authority accepted the withdrawal of the resignation, thereby violating the existing rules and regulations.

Her resignation was accepted by the Centre on April 20 and she was asked to demit office on April 30 itself. On April 30, she demitted office and the Deputy Director took charge as the Director.

The petitioners said to their shock and surprise, on June 29, Ms. Samson walked into the Kalakshetra Foundation and informed the office that her resignation was withdrawn and she continued to hold office with effect from April 30.

No reason had been assigned for accepting the withdrawal of the resignation. In fact, the resignation was tendered by her on February 28 and the same was accepted on April 20.

After accepting the resignation and after she had demitted office, under the relevant rules, there was no provision to accept the withdrawal of the resignation.

They prayed the court to declare that Ms. Samson had no authority to hold or right to be reappointed by the Centre by its order of June 29 to the post of Director after she had demitted office on April 30 and after attaining superannuation, against statutes and rules relating to the post.

Quoting several Supreme Court and High Court judgments, the Judge said Kalakshetra was a body-corporate.

Her post was juristic having legal status like a company governed by the Companies Act. Therefore, one had to seek recourse to common law principles. As per the common law, if the resignation was tendered by a Director, it took effect from the moment it was tendered and the same was accepted by the competent authority. In the result, the Judge said he was allowing the writ petition and setting aside the Centre’s impugned order.

Petitioner says no reason assigned for accepting withdrawal of resignation

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