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Delhi Bar Council game of thrones: Tiwari vs Sondhi circular wars for secy chair

The Delhi Bar Council (DBC) is facing infighting between members owing to the informal structure of rules under which office bearers are appointed and continue in executive posts at the council.

The DBC’s secretary Murari Tiwari, whom former DBC vice chairman Vijay Sondhi had allegedly replaced on 13 May, today alleged that Sondhi’s claim was false, and that he is still continuing as secretary. He said that appointment to the post of the DBC’s secretary can only be done through a resolution passed in a meeting called to appoint the secretary, and no meeting with this agenda had been called yet.

A 13 May “resolution by circular” carrying the consenting signatures of 17 out of 25 council members and the stamp of the DBC, states: “Be the following member of Bar Council of Delhi hereby appoint Shri Vijay Kumar Sondhi member Bar Council of Delhi as secretary of Bar Council of Delhi in place of Shri Murari Tiwari.” Tiwari told Legally India that this circular was invalid.

DBC chairman RS Chauhan said that a meeting had been scheduled for today, but before it could happen Sondhi “forced some documents” and “obtained [the members’] signatures for overriding the meeting”.

“How can people have signed in confidence that he could have called a meeting?” remarked Chauhan adding, “and after that again, because he submitted a letter on the 13th, again we passed a resolution on the 14th. It was again signed on the 14th.

The “resolution by circulation” of 14 May, a copy of which is with Legally India, was signed by 12 members including Chauhan and Tiwari. It states:

“We […] resolved that the present office bearers will hold their office till elections are held for various posts of the office bearers and members of the committees. We express regret that some of the members of the council, due to some misunderstandings felt that […] the office bearers are no longer holding their offices.”

Three DBC members have signed both the circulars.

Rights and wrongs

Chauhan confirmed to Legally India that currently no written rule exists stating the procedure for appointment of the secretary, but what Sondhi had done was wrong and that the DBC will hold a meeting to “take action against [Sondhi]”. He said that this meeting had been postponed from today to tomorrow, owing to the Delhi high court’s new chief justice’s felicitation function being organised today by the DBC.

Sondhi argued that in the absence of a written rule and no previous instance of election to the post of secretary by ballot, the “resolution by circular” appointing him was valid since it was signed by a majority, and if it was invalid then the 14 May “resolution by circulation” being relied upon by Chauhan and Tiwari, was also invalid since it also was not the product of any meeting of the members.

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“Taking the worst interpretation [of the 14 May resolution], it says that present office bearers will hold their office. I already stood appointed by resolution on the 13 [May]. And there was no resolution stating that Sondhi stands removed. [So I, and not Tiwari, will continue as secretary],” remarked Sondhi.

Sondhi further said that Chauhan should have resigned from his post as chairman once his official term of two years had ended on 22 March, and that it was “wrong interpretation” of the DBC rules to allow for the extension of his term from January 2014, when he was elected. “It has never happened in the history of the DBC that so many chairmen have changed [within the term for which one chairman officiates],” he commented.

Sondhi had called for a 26 May meeting to reconstitute the DBC’s election committee, so that elections for the post of chairman can be re-held, since the committee’s and the chairman’s terms have already expired. It is understood that a number of DBC members backed the appointment of Sondhi to push for such re-elections through him.

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