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