Punjab and Haryana high court has quashed the order of the Army Golf Club, Kharga Environmental Park and Training Area (KEPTA), Ambala Cantonment, in which the latter barred its permanent civilian members from entering the club premises by restricting them to the golf course only.
Justice K Kannan disposing of the petition filed by 20 civilian permanent members of the golf club, including 2002 Asian Games player Manav Das, quashed the orders converting status of these members from “permanent civilian members” to “civilian golfers (with) playing privileges only.”
Justice Kannan while quashing the order banning the entry of civilians in the club premises, observed, “There is no issue of any misdemeanour by any of the members. There is also not an issue of any act of vandalism or any act that could be said to be cause of concern for military to keep its own facilities and its property intact. If I find the order to be not justified, I do so not because of the view that the army cannot make any change but the changes that have been made are not shown to have any appropriate basis. I would find the extraordinary steps taken by them to close club facilities for members and curtail the petitioners who are lifetime members to annul membership unilaterally to be unjustified.”
The petitioners argued that the golf club management had passed such orders arbitrarily even when the petitioners were permanent members of the club for the past decade.
They submitted that the petitioners had never violated any terms of the bylaws or defaulted on account of disobedience or of non-payment of monthly subscription etc. The counsel submitted that as per the new bylaws, petitioners have been put in the category where they only have playing rights and cannot use club facilities.
Also, playing rights do not include reciprocal membership of other clubs affiliated with KEPTA such as Chandimandir Golf Club and playing rights do not include participation in tour naments organised by other clubs as member of Kharga Environmental Park and Training Area.
After scrutiny by the Comptroller and Auditor General of India, it emerged that the golf club authorities were grossly misusing the revenue earned from memberships to civilians and not crediting the same to the government account.
In the light of these facts and the sole objective to divert the objections raised by Comptroller and Auditor General, the authorities rechristened all the Army Golf Clubs as Army Environmental Parks and Training Areas.