Former ICC Umpire and Karnataka Cricket Captain A V Jayaprakash who is also a successful racehorse owner and member of the Bangalore Turf Club has written letter to the Chairman of Bangalore Turf Club Harimohan Naidu against the continuance of Mahendra Kuga Shankar as the Steward despite the evidence against him regarding owning a horse had been prominently displayed in the articles published appeared to be incontrovertible and fully substantiated. The copy of the letter has also been forwarded to I S N Prasad and T Suneel Kumar who are both government nominees on the board of BTC.
The following is the full text of the letter by Jayaprakash:
This letter is with regard to the recent episode wherein one of the Stewards of the Club presently in office Sri Mahendra Kugashankar (hereinafter referred to as Subject Steward) is alleged to have concealed material particulars of he being a “Horse Owner” which enabled him to contest for the post of Steward successfully in the year 2017.
The recent articles published on certain websites, press reports and interaction on social media point out to a clear case of the Subject Steward having committed an act of perjury by filing his nomination for the post of Steward being fully aware that he may not be eligible as per the Articles of Association of the Club read with the Rules of Racing. The evidence available on record which has been prominently displayed in the articles published appeared to be incontrovertible and fully substantiated. I respectfully submit that in the present case, the Managing Committee should not even venture to seek a legal opinion on this matter as it appears to be a clear case of a violation committed by the Subject Steward. However, if the club decides to seek an opinion, the terms of the reference should be made in a manner which will ensure that the opinion given is unbiased and purely based on facts and the relevant provisions mentioned above.
I also referred to the letter dated 20/02/2019 filed by Mr Dayanand Mandre one of the club members on the same subject matter, a copy of which is in my possession wherein Sri Mandre has clearly brought out a credible case for the Subject Steward to be held guilty of misleading the members and committing a grave offence which could cause a serious threat to the license issued by the Government of Karnataka to the Bangalore Turf Club for conducting Horse Racing and Betting in the State of Karnataka.
Further to the letter of Sri Dayanand Mandre, it is a matter of record that the Police Commissioner of Bangalore City, Sri T. Suneel Kumar who is also a nominated member on the Board of the Club, has issued a letter dated 22/02/2019 addressed to your good self wherein he has stated that subject matter is a matter to be taken seriously, enquired into and an action taken report submitted to his office. The letter concludes by stating that the Subject Steward may be kept out of the managing committee and other racing activities until the conclusion of the enquiry. It is clear from the language used in the aforesaid communication that the suggestion given to you is more or less a direction issued by the Police Commissioner on the matter.
It is also learnt that the committee has taken cognizance of the letter of the Police Commissioner and communicated to the Subject Steward vide its letter dated 22/02/2019 that he should refrain from carrying out his duties in the capacity of Steward of the Club till there is a finding on the matter as a result of an enquiry to be conducted.
While appreciating the Managing Committee for initiating action based on the Police Commissioner`s letter, I wish to underline and emphasize that the alleged suppression of facts by the Subject Steward, if concluded as true, would lead to far more serious implications on the Club and the Subject Steward.
In this regard your attention is drawn to Article 15 of the Articles of Association of the Club which provides that an elected club member shall cease to be a member and his name shall be erased from the Register of Members when he is found guilty by a competent court in India or elsewhere of any offence involving gross misconduct or "moral turpitude". Taking a thread from the aforesaid provision, it could be a distinct possibility of any member of the Club or the racing public taking up this matter in the court of law, whose decision if affirmative, could lead to serious consequences on the Subject Steward. For the sake of better understanding and clarity, and an act involving “moral turpitude” means an act or behaviour that gravely violates the sentiment or accepted standard of the community.
It is also not out of context to state that the allegations, if true, would fall into the rigours of the provisions of Article 16 of Articles of Association of the Club as it would become “an act which is likely to bring discredit to the Club and hence could trigger a requisitioning of a special general meeting by the members to expel the Subject Steward.”
The action of the members as above is more than likely in view of the fact that the said Article 16 was used elaborately by the members in recent past to attempt to expel certain members of the club for alleged offences which were far less in degree as that compared to the alleged offence of the Subject Steward in the present case. You may recall that the Club has spent substantial money and time on the conduct of three successive Special General Meetings purely to satisfy the ego, misconceived and mischievous intent of certain members who tried in vain to use the umbrella of Article 16 to settle their personal scores.
It is relevant to point out that when I represented one of the trainers as his spokesman in an enquiry in the year 2018 before the Body of Stewards including the Subject Steward, the said Sri Mahendra Kugashankar tried to educate me on the definition of “malpractice” during the said enquiry proceedings. I must confess that that I have fully understood the meaning of the said term now especially when it is alleged to have been committed by the Subject Steward who appeared to have worldly knowledge of the term "malpractice" and its true meaning.
As you are aware the Stewards of the Club are functioning as a quasi-judicial authority when they hear the enquiries on professionals and dispense justice. It is a matter of seamless inference that the decisions given by a Body of Stewards with the Subject Steward participating would be tainted with illegality and consequent challenge before the courts of law, which is best avoided by ensuring that the Subject Steward is kept out of all race-related enquiries including the enquiries on professionals henceforth.
In conclusion, I hope that the managing committee under your leadership takes a proper, logical and reasoned view on the matter especially keeping in mind that the continuance of the Subject Steward in office could lead to the withdrawal of license issued to the Club leading to an existential crisis, which we can only ill afford.
A V Jayaprakash
BTC Club Member