Decks cleared for SOMA elections, incumbent president’s plea rejected

By: Express News Service | Rajkot |

Updated: June 29, 2020 5:41:47 am

The order is also likely to end Shah’s reign in SOMA which had begun in 2011. (Representational)

THE COURT of joint charity commissioner in Rajkot has cleared the deck for fresh elections for the posts of president and executive committee of Saurashtra Oil Mills Association (SOMA) while rejecting incumbent president Sameer Shah’s plea seeking to give voting rights to new members and claiming that he was president till October, 2019.

Passing its order on a plea filed by Shah on June 21 last year, the court of PM Raval, joint charity commissioner for Saurashtra and Kutch division, on Thursday rejected Shah’s contention that SOMA had 300 members and that election scrutineer had illegally omitted half of them from the voters’ list prepared for election for SOMA president’s post which was to take place on June 23 last year.

Shah had submitted that as per existing constitution of SOMA, members having paid their membership fee before April 30 of a given year were eligible to vote in the election. But the court observed that no such provision was on record in the article of association of SOMA available with the office of assistant charity commissioner of Jamnagar, where SOMA is registered, and instead ruled that as per article of association amended in 1987, only those members who had paid their fees by January 31, 2019 were eligible to vote in the latest election.

The court also ruled that only general members having oil mills were eligible to vote in election and contest for offices of SOMA, while associate members doing allied activities neither have voting rights nor they are eligible to seek election to SOMA offices.

The court also ruled that there were 156 registered members of SOMA instead of 300 as was claimed by Shah and appointed NH Chavda, senior clerk in the office of assistant charity commissioner of Jamangar, as election officer. The court also ruled that Shah’s plea to declare illegal a meeting convened on March 30, 2019 by vice-presidents Ashwin Sarodiya and Bhupat Metaliya which adopted resolution annulling a March 11, 2018 resolution regarding giving voting rights to new members, had been rendered infructuous as the latter was not taken on record by the assistant charity commissioner.

Shah’s opponents claimed the order was their victory. “I have been a member of SOMA executive committee for the past 20 years and at every meeting, my only submission would be that SOMA is a body of oil millers and that it is only them who should have franchise. But some members wanted to give voting rights to those who are not oil-millers. My fight was against this action,” said Kishor Viradiya, an oil miller from Gondal and a member of camp opposing Shah.

Viradiya and Bhupat Metaliya, an oil-miller from Amreli, had filed their nominations for election to the post of president of SOMA at last year’s election. However, just two days before polling, Shah had moved the court of joint charity commissioner seeking a stay on the election, saying his term was ending only in October and that the meeting convened by Sarodiya and others on March 30, 2019 was illegal as no agenda was circulated. The order is also likely to end Shah’s reign in SOMA which had begun in 2011.

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