6 July 2023 5:55 AM GMT
The Association of Cine and Television Art Directors and Costume Designers has approached the Bombay High Court against elections to its management committee conducted on July 2, 2023. The Association claims that the elections were organized at the behest of an expelled member accused of numerous wrongdoings.A division bench of Justice Dhiraj Singh Thakur and Justice Sandeep V Marne on...
The Association of Cine and Television Art Directors and Costume Designers has approached the Bombay High Court against elections to its management committee conducted on July 2, 2023. The Association claims that the elections were organized at the behest of an expelled member accused of numerous wrongdoings.
A division bench of Justice Dhiraj Singh Thakur and Justice Sandeep V Marne on Tuesday sought response from the State, the Federation of Western India Cine Employees and other respondents within two weeks.
According to the petition filed by the association and National Award-winning costume designer Loveleen Bains, its Joint Secretary, the association is a trade union formed in 1964 and has been governed by a constitution adopted in 2013, with subsequent amendments in 2018.
In August 2017, a member Dilip Pithva was expelled from the association for allegedly siphoning funds and misbehaving with women members of the association, the petition filed through Advocate Sameer Vaidya states. However, he allegedly continued his disruptive activities despite dismissal of his pleas challenging the expulsion. The petition claims that Pithva, along with other disgruntled members, attempted to lock the association's premises and engaged in a physical confrontation on May 24, 2023, necessitating police intervention.
According to the petition, the local police station did not take action, and it addressed letters to higher authorities, including the Joint Commissioner of Police and the Ministry of Labour & Welfare, seeking their intervention.
On, May 16, 2023, Rangarao Chaugule, General Secretary of the association, received a letter from the Federation declaring elections to the management committee on July 2, and appointing two persons as election supervisors. The letter was in response to Pithva’s letter requesting the Federation to declare elections, the petition states. According to the petition, the association has disaffiliated itself from the membership of the Federation.
As per the petition, on June 19, 2023, the association wrote to Registrar (Trade Unions) and the Additional Labour Commissioner informing them that it has scheduled elections on August 15, 2023. The Additional Labour Commissioner asked the Deputy Registrar to take appropriate steps for the same, the petition states.
However, on June 28, Pithva wrote to the Additional Labour Commissioner regarding election to be held on July 2. On the same day, the Additional Labour Commissioner also asked the Deputy Registrar to take appropriate steps for this. When the previous letter by the association was acknowledged by the Additional Labour Commissioner, there is no question of approving Pithva’s letter and conducting elections on July 2nd, the petition states.
Thus, on June 30, the association requested the Registrar (Trade Unions) and the Additional Labour Commissioner not to permit Pithva from conducting election on July 2 and filed the present writ petition the next day. It has also claimed that Pithva used the letterhead of the association causing confusion among the members which lead to its bank accounts getting frozen.
Th petition states that the Registrar's and Additional Labour Commissioner's communication with Pithva and inaction against him is illegal. They failed in their duties by not resolving the dispute and not referring it to the Industrial Court, the petition states. It further contends that under section 28 of the Trade Unions Act, an expelled member cannot be permitted to even continue the membership let alone using the official letterheads of the Association and addressing letters to authorities.
Thus, the petition seeks a declaration that the election held on July 2, 2023, is void ab initio and to withhold the results of the election. It has also sought a direction restraining Pithva to exercise any powers of a committee member and a stay on any notices issued by him. Further, the petition also seeks direction to Axis Bank to unfreeze its bank account.
Case no. – WP(L)/17776/2023 [Original]
Case Title – Association of Cine and Television Art Directors and Costume Designers and Anr. v. State of Maharashtra and Ors.