Battle in FCC of South Asia reaches Delhi High Court; Hearing on March 9
Writ Petition filed against illegal election process initiated by “president” Munish Gupta
Delhi Crown Bureau
New Delhi: Finally the battle going on at the Foreign Correspondents Club (FCC) of South Asia has reached the Delhi High Court, after a senior member filed a Writ Petition before the Court for an early hearing against the so-called president Munish Gupta alleging mass irregularities in the election process initiated at his behest.
The matter has been listed at the Delhi High Court for hearing on March 9.
In a Notice regarding “Announcement for FCC elections” dated March 3, Gupta had declared that the results of the elections, the schedule of which is yet to be made public, would be announced at the Annual General Meeting (AGM) to be held on March 27 at 17:30 hours.
Appointing Ratnajyoti Dutta as the Returning Officer (RO) for conducting the elections, Gupta declared that elections will be held for the posts of President, Secretary, Treasurer, and Eight (8) members of the Governing Committee. “The RO will communicate the process and dates for elections independently,” said the Notice signed by Munish Gupta.
In his Writ Petition, Club’s senior member Deepak Dwivedi also made Registrar of Societies a party, besides Munish Gupta, for failing to perform the statutory duties in enforcing the bye-laws of the Club and provisions of “The Society Registration Act, 1860” as a result of which some vested interests had manipulated the elections at a large scale held in March 2021.
Dwivedi alleged that Munish Gupta and the present Managing Committee was hell bent on contravening the provisions mentioned in the Club’s Constitution, by planning to hold the elections during this month (March 2023) through Online Voting.
Secondly, alleged Dwivedi, there is a plan to hold bogus elections at the behest of Gupta by resorting to holding the polls prior to the AGM and announcing the results at the AGM. As per the Club’s Constitution, the office bearers of the Club shall be elected during an AGM by way of Show of Hands or Secret Ballot.
Pointing out another irregularity in the election process initiated by Munish Gupta, Dwivedi also alleged that contrary to the popular and accepted electoral provision, Ratnajyoti Dutta, who happens to be a member of the Club in the Foreign Correspondent (FC) category and a voter himself, has been appointed as the RO to conduct the elections.
Notably, only the FC category members are allowed to participate (voting and contesting) in the election process at FCC of South Asia.
“Munish Gupta has in a pre-determined manner proceeded to appoint its own person as the RO who is himself a voter and an interested person, hence not impartial and independent as being falsely claimed,” said the Writ Petition.
“Munish Gupta is hell bent upon running the club through proxy and indulging in serious irregularities thereby damaging the image of the institution and the country in the eyes of foreign media. This year also the elections are scheduled to be held in the last week of March, 2023, and Munish Gupta without approval of the Managing Committee of the club has decided to hold the elections online,” mentioned Dwivedi in his Writ Petition.
Holding the Registrar of Societies responsible for “inactivity”, petitioner Dwivedi alleged – “the present Writ Petition is against the inactivity of the Registrar of Society, who has failed to take action on the specific complaint. The said respondent is an instrumentality of State, hence is a State within the meaning of Article 12 of the Constitution of India.
That the petitioner is aggrieved by the constant inactivity of the Registrar of Societies and approaching this Hon’ble Court for issuance of writ against him.”
The petitioner also held that the present Managing Committee of the Club had played the dirty trick of getting fake members as voters, and had obtained their online access for holding a fake and sham election, thereby mocking the statutory and democratic process.
“The illegally and undemocratically elected Managing Committee (in March 2021) has been working during the interregnum and further indulged in other violations besides making fake members with the intention to hijack the institution in perpetuity,” Dwivedi mentioned in his Writ Petition.
He also brought to the notice of the Delhi High Court that several elected office bearers (who were elected in March 2021) had come to face the resistance of the members of the Club and had subsequently resigned from the Managing Committee.
“Only president Munish Gupta is running the entire affairs of the Club by proxy and indulged in serious irregularities including financial and otherwise which is damaging the public institution and defaming the country in the eyes of foreign media. No meeting of the Managing Committee is held as per the quorum of the Memorandum of Association (MoA) and only some fake notices are issued by him, thereby making a mockery of the bye laws and the democratic process,” said the Writ Petition.