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Kurien in the dock at IRMA

By Joydeep Ray and Mitul Thakkar in New Delhi
Last updated on: April 01, 2005 09:39 IST

Friday morning will be testing time for the architect of Operation Flood and chairman of the Institute of Rural Management-Anand, Verghese Kurien.

The board of the country's premier agriculture management institute is meeting in the wake of the joint charity commissioner (Vadodara division) upholding the order of the assistant charity commissioner, Anand, which questioned the validity of Kurien's chairmanship.

The meeting will be attended by the chiefs of the dairy and education departments, including Amrita Patel, chairman of the National Dairy Development Board, who is against Kurien holding the chairman's position at IRMA. Speculation is rife that Kurien might step down at the meeting.

The joint charity commissioner (Vadodara division), BP Hadiya, announced his judgment against Kurien on a petition filed by IRMA Ddrector K Prathap Reddy. It was Kurien who had appointed Reddy the director of the institute.

"The order of the assistant charity commissioner is upheld by this authority, while the appeal filed by Bharatkumar Vyas, member of the board of governors of IRMA and managing director of Gujarat Cooperative Milk Marketing Federation Limited, and Amul's Rahulkumar Shrivastava against K Prathap Reddy, director of IRMA, stands cancelled," said the joint charity commissioner's order, which has come as an embarrassment for Kurien and his acolytes.

In August last year, IRMA had changed some of its rules and one of them concerned the lifetime chairmanship accorded to Kurien.

An IRMA board member, requesting anonymity, said: "Although the assistant charity commissioner approved the changes, she did not approve the one related to Kurien's chairmanship.

"Thus, Kurien's chairmanship stands illegal and invalid. The joint commissioner has upheld the assistant charity commissioner's decision and, now, Kurien is no more the chairman of IRMA." The assistant charity commissioner, on February 25, had even questioned Kurien's designation of 'founder chairman'.

Meanwhile, Kurein's notice to some of the board members cancelling their membership has been termed null and void. "They continue to be members of the Board of Governors in IRMA," the order says.

"I am happy and the order shows that I did no wrong. The court has upheld the previous order issued by the assistant charity commissioner and has supported my decision to call a board meeting on April 1," Reddy told Business Standard. Kurien could not be contacted for his comments.
Joydeep Ray and Mitul Thakkar in New Delhi
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