India International Centre (IIC), a prestigious cultural hub in the national capital, is witnessing an acute power struggle for the control of this institution, with a section of its members questioning the re-election of 87-year-old Soli Sorabjee as its president.
Pitted against the distinguished jurist are a section of trustees and members who want him to pass the baton to Jammu and Kashmir governor NN Vohra, as per the established convention of rotation.
Sorabjee’s detractors question his re-election last December—two members have also approached the court-- pointing out that it was invalid due to a vacancy in the IIC Board of Life trustees, created by the resignation - and subsequent demise - of MGK Menon. They refused to accept the director’s report at the annual general meeting (AGM) held on March 31.
The IIC Board of life trustees will meet on April 29 to elect a replacement for Menon, but Sorabjee is in no mood to oblige his dissidents. “It’s not true that if one of the life trustees resigns or passes away, election or AGM cannot be done. It is only when the trustee who resigns or passes away is the president. But Prof Menon was not the president when he resigned. He was a life trustee only. Process of electing the fifth life trustee had started in the September/October but since no decision was arrived at on this, the vacancy could not be filled,” Sorabjee told HT. The names doing the rounds for the vacant slot include former diplomats Shyam Saran and Lalit Mansingh.
A slot for one life trustee in the 5-member board has been lying vacant for about eight months after the then life trustee Prof. MGK Menon resigned on health reasons last August. IIC board comprises five life trustees and two elected trustees. All seven participate in the election process of the IIC president. Apart from Sorabjee and Vohra, Kapila Vatsyayan and Justice (retd.) BS Srikrishna are on the board. RK Pachauri and Vipin Malik are elected trustees.
At the March 31 AGM meeting, Vatsyayan had refused to accept the director’s report, questioning Sorabjee’s re-election. Some agitated members accused the IIC president of not conforming to the principle of rotation, adherence to which, they claimed, could have allowed induction of a new president. They also questioned the presence of RK Pachauri at December 26 meeting of the trustees at which Sorabjee was re-elected. Pachauri had ceased to be a trustee after TERI withdrew his nomination. His vote was, therefore, not counted in December 26 election.
The jurist has put his foot down, contending that he was duly elected the president by the board of trustees of the IIC last December and would continue on this post for the next five years. He enjoys sound health parameters, he asserted.
Suhas Borker, an executive body member, said, “The four life trustees should have met earlier and selected the fifth life trustee before holding election for the president. Had these things been in place earlier, the AGM would not have witnessed an uproar.”