Petition filed before Registrar of Societies alleging serious irregularities, undemocratic process
Delhi Crown Bureau
New Delhi: Munish Gupta, the so-called president of Delhi-based Foreign Correspondents Club (FCC) of South Asia, has been cornered and isolated for “hijacking” the Club, amid the announcement of elections on Friday (March 3) in an “undemocratic manner” amid several irregularities “at his behest”.
According to the Club members, beleaguered Munish Gupta faces serious charges, including non-compliance of various mandatory provisions of law, trying to hold a sham and bogus elections through an online voting system, not properly conducting the accounts, and withholding the figures related to incomes and subscriptions of the Club.
A petition to this effect has been filed by Deepak Dwivedi, a member of the Club in the Foreign Correspondents (FC) category. In his petition, Dwivedi asked the Registrar of Societies to ensure that the forthcoming elections, the dates of which are yet to be announced, must be held while complying with the bye-laws through secret ballot in physical form in the presence of Registrar of Societies.
He also mentioned that the elections held in 2021 were “rigged at a large scale” at the behest of Munish Gupta.
Announcing the next elections Gupta on Friday put up a Notice on the Club’s website appointing Ratnajyoti Dutta (a FC member) as the Returning Officer. Dutta is yet to announce the dates and schedule of the elections.
According to sources, Dutta is planning to hold the next elections through online voting. He was quoted as saying – “I will follow the last precedent when online voting was held”.
The members of the Club, however, are demanding a voting process whereby each eligible member casts his/her vote physically at the Club’s premises, just like elections are held at the Press Club of India (PCI) and the Indian Women Press Corps (IWPC).
“The elections of the Club should be held through a secret ballot, whereas the present Management Committee is holding the same through online voting which is tampered and bogus voting is done by president Munish Gupta and his associates who have hijacked the Society (Club) for their selfish purposes,” said Dwivedi in his petition addressed to the Registrar of Societies.
He added, “The affairs of the Society (Club) have been hijacked by some vested interests who have made it undemocratic. The said persons are violating the bye-laws of the Society and also the Societies Registration Act 1860 by not holding the elections of the Society properly.”
Dwivedi told www.thedelhicrown.com, “The members who do not visit the Club have no right to vote and hijack the Club by proxy. Hence, the voting can only be held through secret ballot in physical form.”
The two-year term (2021-23) of Munish Gupta has been quite tumultuous as Pankaj Yadav, one of the elected members of the Managing Committee, charged him of corruption and irregularities on several occasions.
“Ever since our Managing Committee (MC) took over in April 2021, at every MC meeting I demanded to see the bills of purchases made and expenses done for the day-to-day running of the Club. But Gupta never yielded, and always maintained that it’s his prerogative and discretion whether to present the bills before the MC or not. I have enough documentary proofs to show Gupta’s corrupt behaviour,” Yadav told www.thedelhicrown.com.
He further said, “Initially eight members were elected to the MC, including Gupta. But as time passed by three members, including Vice-President Emily Schmall (of New York Times), Ruth Pollard (Bloomberg) and Elizabeth Puranam (Al Jazeera) resigned as a mark of protest against Gupta. And, he also tried to get rid of me by illegally expelling me while being hands-in-glove of Club’s lawyer Umesh Sharma. But I returned with a Court Order to the effect of restoring my membership and exercising all rights at the Club. However, despite the Court Order, Gupta is hell bent on restraining my entry into the Club by posting a lady guard at the Club’s gates. The lady guard is under Gupta’s instructions to file false and frivolous police/legal complaints against if I make a bid to enter the Club.”
According to sources, Gupta, the real brother of Manoranjana Sinh who was jailed for over a year for her role in the infamous Saradha Scam that rocked the nation a decade ago, has been showing his “dubious character” all these years as he is non-journalist and fails to fulfil the conditions required to be a member of the Club in FC category.
Gupta, an unemployed, is devoid of the Press Information Bureau (PIB) Card issued by the Government of India to all senior and experienced journalists. He simply runs a small time Youtube channel “PIO TV” on the basis of which he claims to be a foreign journalist. That Youtube channel hardly has any regular subscribers, and the content seems too unprofessional.
In November 2022 Gupta fell off the stairs at his home in an inebriated stated fracturing his backbone, one hand and a leg. He continues to wear a Neck support, and can be see moving around with broken limbs. He seems hell bent for a second consecutive term as president of the Club.
However, members at large are not in his support/favour this time.
A senior member of the Club and former Treasurer who works with a German media, told www.thedelhicrown.com, “Over the past few days many of us have approached Munish Gupta to stay away from the elections as he is not physically fit to run the Club, given the serious injuries he is dealing with. Moreover, the past two years under his helm have been tumultuous, bringing a bad name to him, the Club at large, and the members as well. But, he isn’t yielding and wants to contest. He will be surely facing a defeat this time as everyone wants a new face to run the Club for the next two years.”