The Bangalore Turf Club Managing Committee is in a tearing hurry to push through certain proposals which have far-reaching consequences on the way the sport is administered. This despite the fact that about 50 odd members submitted a letter to the Managing Committee to defer the Special General Body Meeting in view of the pandemic and the limitations imposed by an exercise involving only the postal ballots.
If the proposals go through, it will take away the powers of the government to regulate racing despite being a licensing authority. The government has mandated that its prior approval is a must to move any amendment to the Articles of the Association. Strangely, the government is not a participant in the proceedings and has virtually given up its say in the actual running of racing. It is surprising how the government has given permission for such an amendment.
It is also surprising that the government which wants to have a say in the election of the Chairman has renounced its powers in other matters.
Somebody like Prof Jayadevappa who has been nominated as a Steward by the government has been an active participant and has put spokes in the many dubious decisions that were proposed to be taken by the Managing Committee. Because of this, the BTC Committee wants only the non-participating ex-officio government officials to be on the board and they want to relegate the government functionaries to the positions only in the Appeal Board.
Some of the well-meaning members have expressed the view that passing the amendments to the Articles of the Association through a postal ballot was not acceptable as the members cannot express their views or suggest amendments. Their right to air an opinion will be deprived because of the postal ballot exercise which entails them to either say yes or no to the proposals.
Apart from the several anomalies in the proposals of the Managing Committee, there is also one amendment which seeks to disenfranchise the government nominees. The Principal Secretary to the Finance Department, the Bangalore City Police Commissioner and one Steward from among the general public is nominated to the Board of Stewards. The BTC does not want any private individual to be nominated as a Steward and want the third position to be given to the Principal Secretary, Home Department. The purpose of having the government nominees is to ensure that the affairs of the club are fair and are in the best interests of the general public (Racegoers).
The proposal put for voting for the constitution of the Appeal Board reads: ``Three persons who shall be elected at every Annual General Body Meeting who have served as Stewards for a minimum period of two years in any Turf Authority of India and are not racehorse owners as defined in the Articles, (ii). Two persons shall be the ex-officio Stewards nominated by the Government of Karnataka viz. Additional Chief Secretary, Finance Department, and Additional Chief Secretary, Home Department, who shall not serve as Stewards of the race meet. (iii)Two persons may be co-opted by the Board who has served as senior officials for a minimum period of 10 years in any Turf Authority of India.
The proposal of nominating the Stewards to the Board involves a conflict of interest. The proposal to bar such nominated Stewards from functioning as Racing Stewards in view of their nomination virtually disenfranchise their powers as Stewards. The powers as Directors under the Companies Act cannot be curtailed or withdrawn under the Articles and would be contrary to the provisions of the Companies Act.
The Article is primarily illegal though a similar arrangement currently is in force which is more voluntary in nature and is not officially enshrined in the Articles. The intention of the Managing Committee in moving this amendment is because the government nominees who are in high positions don`t participate in the day to day proceedings as they are busy in their official work and the mandarins of BTC can have a free run.
The Appeal Board only hears grievances of professionals who would have been adversely affected by the decisions of the Stewards. For such a job, any retired government official with rich administrative experience in any tribunal would do. Or retired government officials who had been on the board by virtue of the positions they held in the government could be nominated. The reason why important functionaries of the government were put in the first place as stewards were to cover all the critical areas of racing administration including the way races are conducted, the objections of racing interferences are decided and the manner in which the enquiries are conducted. The other purpose was to protect the interests of the government. It may be recalled that racehorse owners were banned from becoming Stewards in 1985 after the infamous Certain Smile and Goverdhan incident where an objection was decided to suit the betting interests of the decision-makers and their associates.
One of the members of the club R Dhirendra has written a strong letter to the Managing Committee to defer the matter citing several anomalies in the procedure adopted. He has said: ``The correct procedure is to circulate the amended articles and then call for a Special General Body Meeting wherein the same is passed with or without modifications, with a proper proposer and seconder. At this moment it looks as if the Committee is in a major hurry to adopt an approach that no one understands.
``In the name of the current Pandemic, an approach has been taken up that has never happened in the history of our organization just because you are permitted to do so (Postal Ballot).
``You have chosen to circulate this and given us only the option to either Tick ‘Yes` or ‘No`, there is no way one can amend any of the proposed amendments. There is no option for ‘Amendment needs Modification.
First of all, I don`t understand why the hurry to pass these changes, when the correct approach would be that we have an SGM and physically pass this where each and every amendment is discussed thoroughly, amended where need be and then passed by the General Body… I notice several errors and inconsistencies which need to be rectified to bring clarity and there is no way of doing that with the approach you are suggesting,`` he has said.
In the meanwhile, the Managing Committee has written for permission to postpone the Annual General Body meeting by three months but don`t find the Pandemic coming in the way of a Special EGM which surely requires the physical presence of members for any meaningful exchange of views. The AGM also elects three new Stewards and two Committee Members. Instead of leaving the matter to be taken up by the newly elected Managing Committee, the outgoing committee wants to go through with a hurried EGM.
Why such a hurry? Your guess is as good as mine.