Gymkhana Club caught in a legal tangle over membership rights
Though the club, located in the heart of Lutyens’ Delhi with the Prime Minister of the country as its neighbour, has evolved rigid procedures entrenched in tradition, an applicant has to wait for decades to get a membership. Sometimes, the waiting period could be over 25-40 years.Updated: Mar 04, 2017 23:58 IST
The prestigious 103-year-old Delhi Gymkhana Club (DGC) is facing a legal fight from some members whose children could not get membership of the club under the reserved quota.
Though the club, located in the heart of Lutyens’ Delhi with the Prime Minister of the country as its neighbour, has evolved rigid procedures entrenched in tradition, an applicant has to wait for decades to get a membership. Sometimes, the waiting period could be over 25-40 years.
The club gives ‘preference’ to Green Card Holders (GCH) or UCPs (a term used for adult children of existing members) while granting permanent memberships. The UCPs are entitled to use the club as a dependant till the age of 21 and can continue to use the facility after applying for permanent membership after that age.
Aggrieved by the prevailing system, Alok Mehndiratta and other members filed a suit in the Patiala House Courts seeking a ‘declaration, permanent, and mandatory injunction’ against the practice.
The court in November restrained the club from granting ‘out-of-turn’ memberships to GCHs/UCPs, calling it a ‘violation of the foundational rules’ of DGC.
In an interim order restraining the DGC from granting out-of-turn memberships to children of government quota member, the additional district judge (ADJ) Vineeta Goyal said: “The permanent membership already granted to any GCHs or UCPs after the institution of suit would be subject to the outcome of the suit.”
“It is a sad and unfortunate dispute that prejudices the functioning of the club because of differences over interpretation. I can’t make further comment as the matter is sub judice,” said air commodore (retired) Harjit Singh Sassan, secretary of DGC.
A member of the club, however, said the litigation was filed because some people under the non-government category, who recently became members, wanted access for their grown-up children.
“It is simple. Their children missed the boat as per the club rules. They can’t get in now. The court cases have also not worked to their advantage or even to the benefit of anyone else in the club. I think that the interim order if implemented will cause more problems than it resolves, it’s like unscrambling an egg,” said a member, requesting anonymity.
Another member expressed similar views saying, “I think, they should withdraw the suit if they have any love for their ‘second home’ because they have not got what they set out to achieve for their children.”
Justifying the litigation, a member, said that GCHs or UCPs disturbed the ‘queue’ illegally. “No one surrenders the membership. A vacancy arises only after the death of a member. So there is long waiting list. However, the GCHs or UCPs jumped the queue only because of their parents who are members under the government category quota. Consequently, children of others — under non-government quota — have to wait for 25-40 years to get the permanent membership,” he said.
After the interim order by the ADJ, the club moved the Delhi high court, appealing against the injunction. The appeal was listed twice for hearing. The matter was adjourned on both occasions as the judges recused themselves. The matter is likely to come up for hearing on Monday.