HC dismisses case accusing CM of not giving awards from endowment created by Karunanidhi

Court says case has been filed with political considerations and cannot be entertained

The Madras High Court on Wednesday dismissed a public interest litigation petition which accused the Central Institute of Classical Tamil (CICT), chaired by Chief Minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami, of not giving away yearly cash awards of ₹10 lakh to Tamil scholars from an endowment created by former Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi.

Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee and Justice Senthilkumar Ramamoorthy said the case had been filed with political considerations and hence it could not be entertained. The judges said it was up to the authorities concerned to take a call on giving away awards from endowments and not for the courts to issue directions on such issues.

Advocate S. Doraisamy of Thanthai Periyar Dravidar Kazhagam (TPDK) had filed the case stating that it was Karunanidhi who was instrumental in persuading the Centre to accord classical language status to Tamil in 2004. Subsequently, CICT was established in 2006 and it was registered as a society under the Societies Registration Act in 2009 when Karunanidhi served as the Chief Minister.

Though the prime objective of the institute was to concentrate on research works relating to the classical phase (from early period to 600 AD) of Tamil, one of the other objectives was to institute awards for outstanding contributions in the area of classical Tamil. Hence, Karunanidhi endowed ₹1 crore from his personal funds in 2009 for giving away awards on June 3 every year.

The first award was given away in 2010. Thereafter, he got defeated in the 2011 Assembly elections and his successor Jayalalithaa did not care about CICT which became almost defunct, the petitioner alleged. The post of Director, CICT, was left vacant and it was not filled until the Union Ministry of Education intervened in June 2020, he said.

Stating that the Chief Minister acts as an Ex-Officio Chairperson of the institute, the litigant alleged that the incumbent had deliberately eschewed the distribution of the award.

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