Madras HC red-flags CSI poll, names judges’ panel to administer body

They also had sought free and fair polls to elect the diocesan council members.
Madras High Court
Madras High Court (File photo | Express)

CHENNAI: Holding that the incumbent office-bearers, elected through a “vitiated” election, of the Synod of the Church of South India (CSI) cannot be allowed to function, the Madras High Court on Friday constituted a two-member committee of administrators comprising retired judges to take over the body’s affairs with immediate effect.

A division bench of Justices R Subramanian and R Sakthivel passed the orders on appeals filed by affected members of CSI seeking to reverse the order of a single judge and have appointed a committee to administer the synod. They also had sought free and fair polls to elect the diocesan council members.

The election process stands "vitiated" owing to the “defective” electoral college and the amendments made to by-laws without following the constitution of CSI, the bench observed. “We therefore cannot allow the office-bearers elected in such a vitiated election to continue in office,” it ruled.

Reversing an earlier order which appointed a retired judge for holding an election only for the post of Moderator -- the supreme authority – the bench further constituted a committee comprising Justices R Balasubramanian and V Bharathidasan to manage the affairs of the synod.

Considering the nature of the work and the time that is to be spent in administration, we find that the committee would be in a position to administer the affairs of CSI more effectively than an individual, it said.

Further, the bench directed the committee to take charge immediately and manage administration until the elections to the diocesan councils are completed. It also asked the panel to carry out the election process expeditiously in order to complete it at the earliest possible opportunity.

Advocate S Thanka Sivan, appearing for two of the appellants, submitted that the moderator and other office-bearers indulged in serious malpractices and manipulation of the electoral college.

Therefore the elections for the triennium 2023-2026 should not be allowed, the advocate said. He also sought for streamlining the electoral college before holding the elections.

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