Chennai: Siddharth Varadarajan, the national bureau chief of The Hindu, was Wednesday appointed editor of the more than 100-year-old family-run daily, a move that triggered the resignations of three members of the family from their senior editorial positions.
Varadarajan was appointed by a board meeting of Kasturi & Sons, which runs The Hindu and other publications from the stable. He was named by N. Ram, the current editor-in-chief to succeed him, a move that was opposed by the other three members of the family.
N. Ravi resigned as editor, Malini Parthasarathy as executive editor and Nirmala Lakshman as the joint editor.
A fourth member of the family, N. Murali, announced his retirement on attaining the age of 65 on Aug 11, 2011.
They remain on the board of directors.
“Have resigned as Executive Editor, now only a Director on the Board,” Parthasarathy, who was a claimant for the editor-in-chief’s post, tweeted.
Parthasarathy said that as Varadarajan was far junior to her, continuing as executive editor had become untenable.
Asked about the top level editorial resignations at The Hindu, Ram told IANS: “Nobody asked for their resignations. What we wanted to do is to professionalise and contemporise the daily.”
According to Ram, the appointment of Varadarajan will be in two phases.
“First as the editor he will report to me as editor-in-chief. In the second phase, Varadarajan will be made the editor responsible for selection of news under the PRB Act (The Press and Registration of Books Act),” Ram said.
He said that process would happen soon.
Varadarajan’s appointment, he said, was made effective from July 30, 2011.
“We may also look at professionalising other group publications. That will happen after I step down,” Ram said.
“We are not excluding anybody from aspiring for those positions,” he added.
Speaking about the mandate for the new editor, Ram said: “He will have to build on the paper’s tradition and reputation. He will have a free hand.”
“We are looking for a CEO to run the company. The prospective candidate will mostly be a non-promoter family.”
“I am honoured by the trust the board has placed in me,” said Vardarajan told IANS.
The Supreme Court Monday had directed the Company Law Board (CLB) to hear the dispute.
“We direct the CLB to place the matter for final hearing in the week commencing from Aug 8. We make it clear that CLB will proceed to hear the matter on day-to-day basis,” the court’s order said.
Ravi, Parthasarthy and Murali had moved the apex court challenging the high court verdict which cleared the way for the appointment of Varadarajan.
The court was told that the decision to appoint Varadarajan to succeed Ram was against the convention and practices of the family owning the newspaper.
The court was told that under the convention and practices only a member could hold the position of editor-in-chief. The court was told that there were many competent and qualified people in The Hindu family to succeed Ram.
Arguing for N. Ravi, counsel Mukul Rohatgi tried to make out a strong case for a stay on the high court order.
He said that for a hundred years now, The Hindu has been a family-run company, with four branches of the family who have 25 percent stake each having a member in a top position.