Monday, March 23, 2015

Act of ICSI of prohibiting associate members from contesting elections of regional council isn't arbitrary


Action of ICSI in barring 'Associate Members' from contesting and getting elected to Regional Councils is not arbitrary, illegal and violative of article 14 of Constitution

Facts:

a)The petitioners were registered as associate members of the Institute of Company Secretaries of India constituted under the Company Secretaries Act, 1980.

b)The council of ICSI issued a notification fixing the schedule for conduct of elections to the Council and Regional Councils (‘RC’) in the year 2014. As per the said notification, only the Fellow Members of the Institute were eligible to stand for election to the RCs.

c)Aggrieved by the same, the petitioners filed instant petition contending inter alia that the action of the respondents in barring the 'Associate Members' from contesting and getting elected to the Regional Councils was arbitrary, illegal and violative of article 14 of the Constitution.

d)The petitioners also sought a direction to provide an opportunity to the Associate Members of the Institute to stand for election to the Council of the Institute proposed to be held under the election notification on par with the Fellow Members of the Institute.

High Court dismissed petition and held as under:

1)Right to contest election to Regional Councils, being a statutory right created by Company Secretaries Act, 1980 and rules and regulations made thereunder, it is subject to qualifications and disqualifications prescribed therein and, thus, petitioners could neither claim an absolute right to stand for election to Regional Councils nor contend that their right to contest election was defeated by stipulating that fellow members alone were eligible to stand for election to Regional Council

2)As stipulated in section 5(3), an Associate Member who has been in continuous practice as a Company Secretary for at least five years or an associate member who possesses such qualifications or practical experience as the council may prescribe are entitled to be entered in the Register as Fellow Members. Thus, it is clear that the Fellow Members and Associate Members constitute two different classes.

3)As fellow members belonged to a different class and being more experienced and knowledgeable, impugned provisions in making only fellow members eligible to stand for election to Regional Councils could not be held to be discriminatory and violative of article 14 of Constitution thus, legislative intendment was clear that Council shall be composed of only fellow members - PRINCE KUMAR V. INSTITUTE OF COMPANY SECRETARIES OF INDIA [2015] 55 TAXMANN.COM 215 (DELHI)

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