Chennai: The Hindu is to get the first editor of the paper in nearly five decades who won’t belong to the family that runs it. After about three months of litigation, the Hindu’s national bureau chief Siddharth Varadarajan was appointed editor of the 132-year-old daily, following a resolution supported by a majority of directors on Wednesday.
The move led to several resignations—N. Ravi as editor, Malini Parthasarathy as executive editor and Nirmala Lakshman as joint editor. N. Murali announced his retirement with effect from 11 August, when he turns 65. Varadarajan’s appointment will be with effect from 30 July and he will report to editor-in-chief N. Ram.
The owners of the Chennai-based newspaper have been involved in a bitter legal battle since an April board meeting in which seven of the 12 board members led by N. Ram called for a non-family member to become editor. The majority also supported the removal of Ravi and Parthasarathy from their posts.
The minority group on the board consists of Ravi, Parthasarathy, Lakshman, Murali and director Nalini Krishnan.
The appointment came two days after the Supreme Court refused to intervene in the family dispute, which was a blow to Ravi, Parthasarathy and Murali, who had moved the apex court to overturn a 1 July high court order that favoured Ram.
In May, ahead of a board meeting that would have appointed Varadarajan editor, Ravi, Murali and Parthasarathy approached the Company Law Board (CLB). The CLB ruled against a change in the editorial team.
Ram then appealed to the Madras high court to overturn the CLB order. The high court ruling, in favour of the majority members of the Kasturi and Sons Ltd board, paved the way for a non-family member to be made editor of The Hindu.
Ravi and fellow board members approached the Supreme Court, which on 18 July steered clear of the family dispute, but instructed the CLB to speed up the process and hear the case on a day-to-day basis starting the second week of August.
The final decision now rests with the CLB that has ruled in favour of Ravi, Murali and Parthasarathy on at least two previous occasions. The Supreme Court ruling had, however, cleared the way for Ram and his supporters to appoint Varadarajan as editor. Mint couldn’t immediately ascertain the impact the CLB’s decision will have on the changes that have been made. Ram declined comment on this issue.