The Madras High Court has initiated criminal contempt proceedings against founder of Vels group of institutions Ishari K Ganesh for trying to influence justice N Anand Venkatesh to postpone the Nadigar Sangam elections.
The actor-producer contested for the post of general secretary on behalf of ‘Swami Sankardas Ani’ headed by K Bhagyaraj in the elections that were held on Sunday.
In his petition (read on Live Law), Justice Venkatesh said that he was in Vellore on Saturday afternoon when he received a phone call saying the Chief Justice had given permission for an urgent hearing seeking direction for the Chennai police to provide security for the elections that were slotted for Sunday. While returning to Chennai he received another phone call from Anantharaman, a common acquaintance of both him and Ishari Ganesh, asking for postponement of elections.
The judge said, “(Anantharaman) told me that Mr. Ishari K Ganesh is interested in this case and that he wants the case to be adjourned by a couple of weeks in order to ensure that the elections are not conducted on June 23, 2019, and, in the meantime, something could be done to postpone the elections. This came as a bolt from the blue to me and without reacting, I disconnected the phone call.”
Justice Venkatesh said that Anantharaman had reached his house too, and made the request in person again, saying Ishari Ganesh had helped him during various occasions. The judge asked him to leave immediately, but later learnt from his family that Anantharaman had made the phone call sitting in the judge’s house. “This, in my view is a shocking state of affairs where a party interested in a litigation and who is also said to be a contestant in the election had the audacity to approach a judge of this court and seek for a favour,” he said.
The judge directed the Registry to file a suo moto criminal contempt petition against Ishari Ganesh and Anantharaman, and issued notices to them to be present in court for a hearing in four weeks.
Ishari Ganesh, an actor and film producer, is also the founder of Vels Educational Trust, and is the Chairman and Vice Chancellor of Vels University in Chennai.
Elections to the South Indian Artistes’ Association were held at St Ebba’s School in Mylapore on Sunday after many roadblocks and legal issues. It was initially scheduled to take place at MGR Janaki College in RA Puram but the city police asked for a change in location days before the elections, citing traffic issues. The Madras High Court ruled in favour of the police, but, in another hearing challenging the order of District Registrar to call off elections, the court held that the illegal termination of 61 members of the Sangam, as alleged by a complaint sent to the registrar, was valid. It ordered that while the elections would take place as planned, the counting of votes must to be deferred till it investigated the matter further.
The ballots are currently with the South Indian Bank, Nungambakkam, Chennai, and the Sangam is reportedly paying the bank a daily rent to secure them. A decision regarding the date and venue for the votes to be counted would be announced on July 8.
The elections this time saw a 51% voter turnout, and some, including Rajinikanth and a few artistes who were not in town, said they could not vote because the postal ballot did not reach them on time.
Image Courtesy: Vels University Website