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Bangalore Turf Club`s clock is ticking

  February 14 , 2020

The Supreme Court has posted the BTC matter for hearing in the month of May. The Karnataka Government had pressed the Supreme Court for an early hearing as the matter of the eviction of Bangalore Turf Club from its premises had been pending for about 10 years. Now that the matter has reached this stage, the BTC`s clock of survival has started ticking!

The Supreme Court made an observation that the affidavits filed by the Government of Karnataka would indicate that an amicable solution to the issue arising is not possible and therefore the Special Leave Petition will have to be heard.

The BTC had filed a writ in the High Court in the year 2010 claiming that the land on which it was operating was given as a grant by the then Maharaja of Mysore on a perpetual lease when the State government refused to renew the lease. The Division Bench of the High Court ruled the matter in favour of the government and asked the club to vacate its premises in six months. The Karnataka Racehorse Owners` Association and the BTC along with the employees` association went for a Special Leave Petition and the SLP of owners` association was admitted.

The matter had been lying dormant, but the State government woke up to the matter following Public Affairs Committee`s adverse findings on the activities of the club along with the substantial amount of money that the club alleged owned to the government by way of rent. The PAC in fact had asked the government to halt the activities of the club but the government decided to press for early hearing of the matter in the Supreme Court and said that it cannot stop racing in the light of the status quo ordered by the apex court.

The Bangalore Turf Club mandarins have always behaved in a high-handed way. Fortunately for the club, the government had not pressed for early hearing and perhaps things would not have come to this situation but for the internal fights which led to the suspension of license for four long months a few years back. The BTC compounded its problems by steadfastly refusing to increase membership after giving an assurance to the government in this regard by way of seeking permission to do so. The BTC members believe that they own the land and the status quo order of the Supreme Court order gives them license to do anything that they desire.

The BTC Committee has failed on several fronts. Building bridges with the government; its failure to convince its members to increase membership; goofing up on GST issue with its attendant problems. The BTC doesn`t enjoy goodwill from any quarter because of the attitude of the managing committee and its members which treats the general public with contempt.

On the other hand, the Mysore Race Club was successful in getting their lease extended by30 years. The club on its own has offered to increase the membership by 50. The government could have easily given a body blow to the Bangalore Turf Club because the Supreme Court may have ordered status quo but they did not specify the number of race days (on course and off course) that the government should give license for. The club has over the years extended the number of race days from about 180 to about 340. The Ramakrishna Hegde government had restricted the number of race days to about 180. If the present government were to implement such a step, the club would close before the Supreme Court verdict. The BTC is on a slippery surface. The present Managing Committee members are incapable of handling the situation as they are too immature for comfort. Their priorities are totally wrong. If one were to be harsh on them, we can say that they stand on their head!

The club, the owners` association and employees` association should put up a co-ordinated effort and must mobilise a substantial amount of money for engaging top lawyers to fight a difficult case because the BTC members on their part will be busy getting their kith and kin as members!

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