Chief Minister Siddaramaiah has cleared the license to Bangalore Turf Club to conduct racing and betting activities with immediate effect. At a meeting held Wednesday night, the Chief Minister gave the go ahead and approved the formation of the monitoring committee to oversee the activities of the turf club. The government had denied the license to Bangalore Turf Club since September 1 following the ordering of a CID enquiry into allegations of doping, financial irregularities and other charges. The CID is yet to file its report even though the enquiry has been going on for the last several months.
The turf club had approached the High Court seeking a writ of mandamus. Justice Bopanna passed orders asking the government to consider BTC`s application in 10 days. The court also suggested the formation of a monitoring committee consisting of eminent persons to oversee the activities of the club and to ensure that the interests of the gullible public were taken care of.
Former Chief Secretary B K Das will be the Chairman of the Monitoring Committee. Former IAS officer M R Kamble and former IGP T Jayaprakash, and former Additional Commissioner of Commercial Tax A B Shamshuddin are the other members of the committee. Barring Shamshuddin, all the others are members of BTC. The club has been granted the license to conduct off-course and on-course betting for the next three days thus paving the way for the conduct of off-course betting on Mysore races on Friday. The first day`s Bangalore winter races will be held on Saturday. BTC is expected to get the license for the winter and summers as well in the next one week.
The government had indicated that it would form a monitoring committee with a retired judge as its head. Several names were floating but in the end, the government went ahead with the appointment of its former Chief Secretary B K Das as the chairman. Incidentally, Das had contested for the post of Steward of the club but was defeated in the elections in the month of September.
The monitoring committee has been given powers to co-opt such members of the club or of public or any resource persons as may be considered and deemed fit; and the authorities of the BTC shall provide all such facilities, including secretarial services as may be required. The expenses for the committee in the discharge of its functions must be met by the Bangalore Turf Club. Remunerations payable to race monitoring committee shall be notified by the government by separate order to be made in this regard and the same must be paid by BTC.
The monitoring committee will report on the adverse findings if any to the government of Karnataka and the Hon`ble High Court of Karnataka and inform the Managing Committee of BTC of its findings. If aggrieved by the monitoring committee, the BTC may provide its explanations to the government of Karnataka and the Hon`ble High Court of Karnataka.
The other critical assignment for the monitoring committee apart from overseeing the conduct of racing is to examine and recommend to the government, of the extent, manner and need to regulate by bringing about any statutory provisions/amendments to the existing laws, governing the licensing of horse racing and betting in the State of Karnataka by an appropriate report to protect the interests of the public and also of all other stakeholders. The monitoring committee will be in force for two seasons or until such time the Hon`ble Court disposes of the writ petition filed by the club, whichever is earlier
The monitoring committee will function within the existing frame of law with a view to protecting the public interest as also the interest of all parties including the other stakeholders such as horse owners, trainers and employees of BTC with respect to the racing activities conducted by the club. Notwithstanding the generality of the above, the monitoring committee, in particular, will oversee actions of BTC with respect to Racing Calendar of events; illegal betting, betting by members of the managing committee, positive reports from testing laboratories for doping; racing objections raised and findings of Appeals Board. The monitoring committee has also been directed to meet as often as may be required during the racing season of the club but not less than once a month and discuss any or all of the actions to be considered.
Surely the churning process has begun for the good of racing with the appointment of the empowered government committee which can effectively rein in the authorities who were a law unto themselves as also the members of the club who came in the way of effective running of racing by interfering with every decision taken by the committee.