Chennai: When the terms and tenure of the governing body go beyond the limits of regulations, the very purpose of unions that are formed and meant to safeguard the interests of the members are put at stake.
Renowned Cinematographer and the President of South Indian Film Cinematographers Association P.C. Sriram’s legal move against former president Siva (aka) FEFSI Siva, taking up the issue in connection with discrepancies in financial matters has certainly generated a wave of sentience in the South Indian Film Industry.
It is the question of accountability that has become a major issue. Members elect the governing body with a hope that the union they belong to, will be governed appropriately and their interests and positions will be taken care of. They expect the governing body to give them proper guidance and support whenever the necessity arises.
P.C. Sriram says that no proper account was submitted by the team led by Siva and the office bearers do not even bother to clarify the questions raised by the auditors. Ramnath Shetty, the current treasurer of SICA said that since last eight years, the ex-body had not filed IT returns. “A star night was conducted in Malaysia on behalf of SICA for a deal of Rs. 3.75 crores with a private TV channel, and for an amount of Rs. 40 lakhs, there is no account submitted till date despite repeated queries on this” he added.
The elections were conducted after a period of eight years in January 2016 after the intervention of Court and since then the ex-body didn’t turn to respond, despite repeated appeals from the newly elected body. According to Ramnath Shetty, if proper submissions of accounts and filing of IT returns were made in time, SICA would have benefitted from lot of donations from various sources and that would have enabled them to help the aged cinematographers who are the members of SICA.
It is said that the accounts for the period from 2008 till 2014 were not submitted so far and the ex-body had created a considerable financial set back in the process of acquisition of land in Saligramam, as by way of an agreement, an amount of Rs. 1.25 crores was paid as advance and a balance of Rs. 80 lakhs due as outstanding to be paid which is much higher than the stipulated land value.
In similar lines, it is NADIGAR SANGAM (South Indian Film Artists Association) that falls in the lights of issue. Actor Sarat Kumar held the position of president of Nadigar Sangam from 2006 to 2015, nearly a decade. During this tenure, actor Radha Ravi was the General Secretary, actor Vijayakumar was the Vice President and Vagai Chandrasekar was the Treasurer. It is alleged that during their term as the office bearers, the financial matters were not handled within the constituted regulations. The newly elected team under the leadership of actor Nasser, actors Vishal and Karthi began questioning Sarathkumar and others regarding the misappropriation of funds and other irregularities in handling the properties connected to Nadigar Sangam. The issue is still at large. Interestingly, the new team has accused that the ex-office bearers are yet to explain or submit the supporting documents for the expenses to the tune of Rs 6 crores.
In both the above cases, it is clear that the former office bearers acted with extraordinary powers for a prolonging period of time and took decisions without foreseeing the future consequences with a sense of limited responsibilities.
Though, these are the two big examples. Many other unions of various film bodies were/are also facing similar issues in the past and present days.
What is the reason that these age-old unions that were formed to safeguard the interests of members are dragged into the shades of chaos? Simply said, in a democratic country, the elections – presidential, parliamentary or legislative assembly – are conducted on every five years term. So is the rule for every segment of election – a union or a corporate body or any such unit that is registered under the constitutional laws.
To reiterate, the terms and tenure should not exceed the time frame and the functions of the elected governing body should be governed with stringent rules and regulations articulated under the law.
This cycle should be systematic and uninterrupted. And this will be the possible solution to make these unions to serve the purpose of their formation.