The deputy press registrar has shot a letter to Kasturi and Sons Ltd (KSL), the publisher of The Hindu, seeking clarification about the appointment of Siddharth Vardarajan, a US citizen, as the newspaper’s editor.
Varadarajan took over as the editor of The Hindu on January 19, 2012 after N Ram step down as the editor-in-chief of KSL’s publications which also include Frontline magazine and The Business Line .
In the letter dated May 17, a copy of which is available with Business Standard, Deputy Press Registrar Ratan Prakash said: "It’s informed that the editor of the newspaper, as mentioned in column No. 9 of the declaration submitted to RNI (Registrar Of Newspapers For India), Siddharth Vardarajan, is a US citizen and his address given is same as the address of the place of the pulication, i.e. Kasturi Building, Anna Salai, Chennai.”
"As you are aware that as per Press and Registration of Books Act 1867, no person who does not ordinarily reside in India is permitted to edit a newspaper. Hence, in order to enable this office to take a view on the matter, it is requested that the residential status of Siddharth Vardarajan, with valid proof, may be furnished to us urgently," the letter said.
When contacted Vardarajan said: “This is a matter between the registrar and the publisher of The Hindu. So, I will not be able to comment.”
Ram, who is one of the directors of KSL, said the letter was a routine enquiry.
“This is just a routine enquiry. RNI use to raise such queries all the time. The foreign citizenship issue was earlier argued and lost in the Company Law Board and the court. There is nothing in the PRB act which says that a foreign national can’t hold the position. You have to be an ordinary resident in India, that is all it says. He has been in India for some time now, and all the letter asks for is a proof of his residence," Ram said.
N Murali, another director of KSL, said: "This matter should have come to the board's attention by now, but it did not till now, which show serious lapse in governance".
Recently, Subramanian Swamy, national president of the Janata Party, had written a letter to the press registrar, requesting the latter to declare Varadarajan's appointment null and void as he was a US citizen.