In a major setback for P.R.Venketrama Raja, President All India Chess Federation (AICF), and his faction, the Madras High Court has clarified the electoral college that existed in February this year is no more valid, said an advocate of the rival faction.
He also said the AICF is to be managed by its general body and there are no office bearers as on date as their three-year tenure had come to an end in June itself.
“The Madras High Court on September 28 had said there is no need for any clarification on its order dated 18.2.2020. The court said the issue of forming a new electoral college was not a matter that was raised in that case. So, there is no bar for AICF to have a new electoral college,” said Sanjay Chadha, advocate for AICF Secretary Bharat Singh Chauhan.
Chadha said his client has the support of 22 out of the 33 state chess federations affiliated to AICF.
The AICF is split into two factions – one headed by Raja and the other by Chauhan.
Raja had approached the court for clarification on the orders issued on 18.2.2020.
In a case filed by Raja, the court on February 18 had set aside the election of five office bearers of AICF and had asked the Returning Officer to convene a Special General Body Meeting to conduct fresh elections.
Appearing for Raja seeking clarification on the 18.2.2020 order, Senior Advocate P.S. Raman submitted that by misinterpreting that order, Chauhan and his supporters held a general body meeting via video conferencing on 22.4.2020 and to tamper with the Electoral College finalized by the erstwhile Returning Officer.
Raman stated at the said AICF meeting on 22.4.2020, resolutions were passed disaffiliating five state associations and also suspended the key office bearers of AICF without any power and authority so that they cannot contest in the election.
On his part, Chadha submitted that on the reading of paras 16 and 17 of the court’s earlier order (18.2.2020), it was clear that the entire proceedings of the Returning Officer subsequent to 05.02.2020 were set aside and, therefore, there is no prohibition for preparing the new Electoral College.
“In fact, a conjoint reading of paragraphs 16 and 17 of the order, dated 18.02.2020, would reveal that we have directed the Returning Officer to convene the Special General Body Meeting of AICF to conduct a fresh election, by sending notices to all the Members along with the date, time and place of the meeting and also to fix the date for filing nominations. This would only mean that the direction was only for convening the Special General Body Meeting and we had not issued any direction for finalizing the Electoral College,” the court said.
Chadha said an appeal has been filed against the single-judge order of the high court granting an ad-interim injunction against the special/extraordinary general body meeting held on April 22, said the federation.
The special/extraordinary general body meeting was called by supporters of Chauhan.
Setting up of a five-member committee to run AICF; a declaration that three officials including Raja are no more office-bearers; disaffiliation of some state chess associations are some of the decisions taken at the April 22, general body meeting.
On 28.8.2020, the Madras High Court held that the calling and conduct of the meeting and the resolutions adopted are totally contrary to the bye-laws and the Act and granted an ad-interim injunction.
“The three-year tenure of all the AICF office bearers got over in June 2020. The way out is the elections,” Chauhan said.