Wednesday, 15 June 2011

The Hindu's battle for survival: "Madras High Court reserves order"

The high court here on Tuesday reserved its order on the petition filed by N Ram, head of The Hindu group of publications, against a Company Law Board (CLB) ruling that key resolutions approved by the board of directors and the majority shareholders on personnel and structural changes couldn’t be implemented.

The CLB has restrained the board resolution approved by shareholders on May 20 to remove the editor, N Ravi, and appoint an employee from outside the family which runs the company, Kasturi & Sons, to succeed him, among other changes.

Ram, who is chairman of the company and also editor-in-chief of The Hindu, had petitioned the HC, arguing that the CLB could not decide such matters for the organisation. This was contested by Ravi and other rivals within the family.
The matter was heard by judge Vinod K Sharma and the arguments between rival counsels went on for four hours. Counsel for Ram said the appointment of Delhi bureau chief Siddharth Varadarajan as editor in place of Ravi would be in the publication’s interest. Seven of the 12 board members had approved and so had 60 per cent of the shareholders.

Counsel for Ravi and executive editor Malini Parthasarathy, both part of the family and who would lose their editorial responsibilities under the proposed changes, contested this. They said the move breached the entire tradition and practice at the institution, and was also contrary to what management consultants and the CLB itself had recommended.

A counsel for joint editor Nirmala Lakshman, another anti-Ram contender, alleged Ram was looking for an opportunity to exit the organsiation in return for a satisfactory price.