The Thanthai Periyar Dravidar Kazhagam (TPDK) has filed a writ petition in the Madras High Court alleging that Tamil Nadu Governor R N Ravi is not entitled to continue in office as he holds an office of profit as the chairman of the Auroville Foundation. The petition states that by occupying an office of profit, Ravi has incurred disqualification and should hence be removed from his post as Governor.
Article 158(2) of the Constitution stipulates that a Governor shall not hold any office of profit. An office of profit is a position that brings to the concerned person some financial gain, or advantage, or benefit. In 1964, the Supreme Court ruled in Guru Gobind Basu vs Sankari Prasad Ghosal and others that the test for determining whether a person holds an office of profit is the test of appointment, including whether the government is the appointing authority and has the power to terminate the appointment, and the source of remuneration.
The Union Ministry of Education had, in October 2021, nominated Ravi as the chairman of the Auroville Foundation for four years. Since then, Ravi has been the full-time chairman of the foundation. The petition states that the chairmanship of the Auroville Foundation “is a public office, carrying salary, allowances and there are service conditions such as leave, pension, provident fund and other matters. Hence it is an office of profit," and that it “is not a private one, but it is a statutory Board and appointed by the Government of India.” It goes on to allege that Ravi assumed the office in contravention of the provisions of the Constitution, by virtue of which he has incurred disqualification.
The quo-warranto writ (requiring the person to show by what authority they are exercising some right, power, or franchise they claim to hold) was filed by M Kannadasan, president of the Kanchipuram district unit of TPDK. The petition sought a direction to Ravi, asking him to explain how he is holding the constitutional post of Governor and under what authority.
Kannadasan alleged that ever since Ravi’s appointment as Governor in September 2021, he has “emerged as a controversial figure” and that he suffers disqualification on several grounds. According to him, Ravi participated in public meetings where he spoke on the principles of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and advocated Sanatana Dharma, which discriminates people on the basis of the four varnas, as the best in the world. Sanatana Dharma is against the principles of the Dravidian movement that is working towards a casteless society, the petition said.
The petitioner also alleged that the Governor has been criticised for not disposing of the files sent to him by the state government and putting the files on hold for months together without any reason, affecting public interest.
Ravi has also started to disturb the normal function of the Auroville village by acting against the charter for Auroville, the petition alleged. Auroville was founded by 'Mother' Mirra Alfassa (hailed as ‘Mother’) in 1968 as an international cultural township. It is in Villupuram district of Tamil Nadu, near Puducherry. The Auroville Foundation Act was enacted by the Parliament in 1988.