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Delhi HC appoints Justice Talwant Singh as observer for IICC President’s election

HC has appointed Justice Talwant Singh looking at the infighting between the office-bearers of IICC

New Delhi, Oct 12, 2023
Looking at the infighting between the office-bearers of the Indian Islamic Cultural Centre (IICC), the Delhi High Court has appointed Justice Talwant Singh (Retd.) as an observer in the matter to conduct elections for the post of President.

The high court had earlier directed the Secretary and Treasurer of the IICC — a registered society under the Societies Registration Act, 1860, which is experiencing a decline due to the ongoing struggle for the President’s position — to sign cheques for salaries and miscellaneous expenses of its staff.

The salary issue stems from the main suit, which deals with the disputes between the parties — IICC and its President Sirajuddin Qureshi.

The suit is to protect the society from further deterioration and mismanagement at the hands of Qureshi and other members of the Board of Trustees comprising 11 persons — the President, Vice President, seven elected members by the General Body, and two members nominated by the Government of India.

The cheques were to be signed by the President, Secretary and Treasurer jointly, but since Qureshi attained the age of 75 on June 14, he cannot hold the post of President as per Clause No. 8 of the Memorandum of Association.

Now, the observer has been tasked with conducting the membership audit to see as to who are the members of the society and if need be, also to conduct a financial audit.

Once the election is conducted, the newly-elected Board of Trustees will be handed over the affairs of IICC, and the present disputes will likely come to an end.

It was contended before the high court that under the presidency of Qureshi, IICC has deviated from its original objectives and operates in a whimsical and arbitrary manner, breaching settled legal principles.

“Qureshi after being elected in 2004 as the President of IICC has not framed any by-laws to run the society and is trying to establish complete monopoly/control over the functioning of the centre in a whimsical and arbitrary manner contrary to the settled principles of the applicable law,” it has been argued.

According to the petition, Qureshi seeks to exert personal control by opening unauthorised restaurants and cafes on the premises.

The situation has escalated due to a proposed amendment to the Memorandum of Association to remove the upper age limit for the office-bearers, with questionable legitimacy.

“Qureshi and other members of the Board of Trustees have been aided and abetted by the other members of the Board, who have overtly or tacitly supported Qureshi in the various acts of breach of trust,” the petition read.

It is alleged that Qureshi, on May 9, issued a notice convening a special meeting of the general body on May 24 in order to amend the Memorandum.

The Secretary of the IICC objected to the convening of the special meeting.

“The hidden agenda behind convening the special meeting of the general body was to amend the Memorandum of Association inter alia to remove the upper age limit of 75 years as provided in Clause 8 (d) of the Memorandum of Association,” it is alleged.

Thus, in view of the serious tussle going on between the different members of the executive and the board of trustees, the functioning of the IICC has been affected.

On May 23, the high court had issued directions halting convening any meetings till the next date of hearing, July 24, and had impleaded the Secretary and Treasurer.

Qureshi was also directed by the court not to convene any future AGM or special general body meetings.(Agency)

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