Management of the Delhi Gymkhana, said members of the present governing body, has decided to plead no wrongdoing.(Priyanka Parashar/HT Photo)
Management of the Delhi Gymkhana, said members of the present governing body, has decided to plead no wrongdoing.(Priyanka Parashar/HT Photo)

Dissent brews in Delhi Gymkhana over plan to counter govt takeover

The Club had been given till May 8 to file its response to a petition by the ministry of corporate affairs alleging “parivarwaad” (nepotism), financial irregularities, misuse of allocated land and issues related to membership as the primary reasons behind its move to acquire the Delhi Gymkhana Club.
Hindustan Times, New Delhi | By Deeksha Bhardwaj
UPDATED ON MAY 08, 2020 06:21 AM IST

The Delhi Gymkhana Club is facing dissent within its own governing body over the strategy to counter a petition filed in the National Company Law Tribunal by the government to take over the club’s management on grounds of financial irregularities and promoting nepotism.

Three members of the governing body have lodged their dissent over “exorbitant legal fees” in writing with president,DR Soni ,a retired lieutenant general, people with knowledge of the information said.

They have also flagged as “unwise strategy” the Club’s response to the petition. The three-members are former Indian Police Service officer Parvez Hayat, committee member Pooja Singh and Indian Statistical Services officer Ganga Kumar. Hayat and Kumar declined to comment on the matter. Singh could not be reached for comment despite repeated attempts.

The Club had been given till May 8 to file its response to a petition by the ministry of corporate affairs alleging “parivarwaad” (nepotism), financial irregularities, misuse of allocated land and issues related to membership as the primary reasons behind its move to acquire the Delhi Gymkhana Club.

Management of the Delhi Gymkhana, said members of the present governing body, has decided to plead no wrongdoing. “They are planning to file a response saying that the case is entirely motivated and has been filed by those who were denied membership of the club,” said a member privy to the developments.

According to a former governing body member, the three dissenters had first written to BS Randhawa, a retired admiral, who is in charge of legal affairs at the club, and then to the president, Soni, who was unavailable for comment despite repeated attempts to contact him.

“The dissent has been going on from 23rd March when the first notice was sent,” said a second member privy to the developments. “Some feel that the club is not being defended in the right manner. The governing body can take a view that there were some violations of the Articles of Association and ask for three months to take corrective measures and rectify the situation.”

One of the mainstays of the government’s petition, filed by north region director Raj Singh, is that the club was arbitrarily granting membership. A white paper published by the Club in October 2014 too had flagged and addressed serious issues relating to membership of the club.

The dissent of the three governing body members is being widely circulated on ‘Hamara Gymkhana’, a WhatsApp group for members, said a member of the club.

“Tomorrow there can be a serious frauds investigation,” said the second member. “Why do lawyers have to be paid Rs 1.5 crore to fight a case in NCLT?. The three members suggested that the Club hire one lawyer instead of two.”

According to the first member, some in the governing body feel they are being left out of crucial decisions.

“No one gets time to analyse any of the agenda items,” the first member said. “Most decisions are last-minute. On Thursday, the governing body met to cast a ballot to approve the strategy. They weren’t even given a copy of the final reply.”

The second member added that while the governing body members were given a copy of the draft response, no one was told what would be in the final one.

“The printouts were handed out during the course of the meeting for a period of two hours,” said the second member. “No one was allowed to take a copy of the response with them.”

The two said that the governing body lacked transparency. “If it were truly transparent, it would reflect faithfully in the minutes uploaded on the website, but even those aren’t put out,” said the first member.

The second person, however, added that the solution does not lie in the club being taken over by the government. “The answer is not that the central government should take over the club, but rather in fixing the issues that have come up.”

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