New Delhi: The management committee of the Delhi Gymkhana Club has said it will challenge the central government’s petition to take over its management.
Lieutenant General D.R. Soni (retd), president of the over-a-century-old club, said the current management has asked the National Company Law Tribunal for some time, until after the Covid-19 lockdown is lifted, to duly present its side of the case.
Earlier this week, the Ministry of Corporate Affairs moved a petition in the NCLT, seeking a change of management at the Delhi Gymkhana Club and the appointment of 15 nominees as administrators to run its affairs. The elite club, which is adjacent to the Prime Minister’s Residence in Delhi, is frequented by top civil servants, army officers and judges, among others.
“We have asked for about 7-8 working days after the lockdown is lifted to arrange for the papers, documents… Of course, we will justify ourselves, and challenge the petition of the government,” Soni said.
“It is a 107-year-old club and is run by the management committee, which is elected by its members… It is not a government office that can be run by the government,” he added.
Another member of the management committee who did not want to be named said this is probably the first time the government wants to take over a club.
“It is completely unheard of that a government wants to micro-manage the functioning of a club…And that too in the middle of a pandemic. What is the urgency?” the member asked. “We will surely challenge it.”
Why govt moved the plea
The government’s plea in the NCLT sought action against the Delhi Gymkhana Club management under Section 241 and 242 of the Companies Act — which allows member of a company or the government to seek relief if the affairs of the entity are being run in a manner “prejudicial to public interest”, or are deemed “oppressive”, among other things.
The tribunal has issued notices, and the case is to come up for hearing next Friday, 1 May.
According to sources in the club, the move came after the Ministry of Corporate Affairs ordered an investigation into the functioning of the club, following complaints of mismanagement and financial bungling, filed by some of its members.
According to a 2019 Times of India report, the club charges an application fee of Rs 1 lakh or more for membership, on which it does not pay interest, even though there is no guarantee of membership being granted even after 20 to 30 years.
The report also said the ministry’s probe had found that the utility charge paid by government officials to join the club had risen to Rs 1.5 lakh from Rs 5,000 in the year 2000. For non-government candidates, the charge has risen to Rs 7.5 lakh from Rs 5,000.
This is an updated version of the report