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A writ petition challenging re-entry of Leela Samson as the Director of the Kalakshetra Foundation at Tiruvanmiyur on Wednesday was allowed by the Madras High Court.

Sai Sankar, Assistant Professor of Music in the Kalakshetra foundation, and 15 others, all working in the Rukmini Devi College of Fine Arts filed the writ petition which was accepted by Justice S. Nagamuthu of Madras High Court.

The rule regarding the reappointment is, a person who had resigned from the post of director could only be reappointed; but the resignation could not be withdrawn as it was not permissible in law. The petitioners said Ms. Samson was appointed on a short term contract. She resigned from her post and the same was accepted.

The Union Ministry of Culture without any authority accepted the withdrawal of the resignation, thereby violating the existing rules and regulations.

Her resignation was accepted by the Centre on April 20 and she was asked to demit office on April 30 itself. On April 30, she demitted office and the Deputy Director took charge as the Director.

The petitioners were shocked and surprised when on June 29, Ms. Leela Samson walked into the Kalakshetra Foundation and informed the office that her resignation was withdrawn and she continued to hold office with effect from April 30.

No reason had been assigned for accepting the withdrawal of the resignation. In fact, the resignation was tendered by her on February 28 and the same was accepted on April 20.

After accepting the resignation and after she had demitted office, under the relevant rules, there was no provision to accept the withdrawal of the resignation.

They prayed in the petition to the court to declare that Ms. Leela Samson had no authority to hold or right to be reappointed by the Centre by its order of June 29 to the post of Director after she had demitted office on April 30 and after attaining superannuation, against statutes and rules relating to the post.

Quoting several Supreme Court and High Court judgments, the Judge said Kalakshetra was a body-corporate.

Her post was juristic having legal status like a company governed by the Companies Act. Therefore, one had to seek recourse to common law principles. As per the common law, if the resignation was tendered by a Director, it took effect from the moment it was tendered and the same was accepted by the competent authority. In the result, the Judge said he was allowing the writ petition and setting aside the Centre’s impugned order.

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