Eight pundits of the Sanatan Dharma Maha Sabha (SDMS) have signalled their intention to take legal action against two executive members who they claimed assumed the two main positions in the organisation after the deaths of the previous office holders.
In a pre-action protocol letter issued on Wednesday, attorney Vashist Maharaj, who is representing the group, claimed that they intend to challenge Krishna Rambally and Vijay Maharaj, the son of former long-standing SDMS secretary general Satnarayan Maharaj, who they claim are wrongly purporting to hold the positions of president general and secretary general respectively.
The pundits are Bhadase Seetahal-Maraj, of Calcutta Road, Freeport; Khemraj Pundit, of Charlieville, Chaguanas; Satyanand Maharaj, of Aranguez; Hardeo Maharaj, of Mc Bean, Couva; Ashram Maharaj, of Monroe Road, Cunupia; Sunil Seetahal-Maraj, Gulf View, La Romain; Mahendra Rambally, of Bejucal, Cunupia; and Darmin Nankumar, of Bamboo Village, Valsayn.
In the 11-page letter, the Pundits claimed that Krishna Rambally and Vijay Maharaj assumed to positions after former SDMS president-general Utham Maharaj passed away on November 29, 2018, and Vijay Maharaj’s father passed away almost a year later.
According to the pundits, the organisation is headed by a Conference of Delegates, which comprises of four delegates from each of the SDMS’s financial branches.
The conference meets twice a year but 31 executive officers are elected for five-year terms, whenever necessary, at their September meeting.
Any 10 financial branches may nominate any two financial members to vie for the posts of president general and secretary general in the meeting.
The president general and secretary general then appoint vice presidents, assistant secretaries, trustees, a treasurer, official advisors, and an auditor.
While they claimed that there are no express provisions of the Constitution, which dictates how the first vice president is chosen, they alleged that the standard practice was to select the president of the Pandits Parishad.
The pundits allege that after Utham Maharaj passed away in late 2018, Bhadase Seethal-Maraj, as first vice president, should have held the post till the next election at the conference in September, last year.
They claimed that as no nominations were put forward by the branches, there was no election at that meeting.
They claimed that as a result, Seethal-Maraj should continue to hold the post.
In terms of the post of secretary general, the pundits claimed that it should be held vacant until the next conference meeting in September.
In the letter, the pundits called on Krishna Rambally and Vijay Maharaj to cease performing the functions of the posts including signing cheques on the organisation’s behalf.
Through their proposed lawsuit, the pundits are seeking a series of declarations over the status of the positions. They are also seeking an order compelling them to pay the $27,500 in legal costs they incurred for threatening the lawsuit.
The pundits’ lawyer gave the men 28 days in which to respond to the letter before they file their lawsuit.
Reporter: Derek Achong