NCLT on Delhi Gymkhana: ‘Imperial’ only dropped from name, remains in psyche

New Delhi, June 27 (IANS) The National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) said after Independence, though the word “Imperial” was dropped from the Delhi Gymkhana Club’s name, but it doubts its absence from the mindset of the club’s patrons as well.

In an 81-page order the acting president of NCLT Principal Bench B.S.V. Prakash Kumar said “Self-elevation of some people under the cover of positions, eminence, richness and inheritance as privilege or elite is anathema to the fundamental rights.

“And in turn prejudicial to the public interest, when somebody appropriates largess of the state for pastimes and whiling away time drinking wine and whiskey in a sprawling land, I believe it is mockery of the system.”

The bench noted that it is on record that soon after Independence, the caption “Imperial” was wiped off from the name of the club. “But I doubt whether it has been wiped off from the mind-set of the club”, noted the acting president.

Commenting on the elite mindset, the bench said watching the legacy which has been continuing under various classifieds to have entry into this club, no space to commoners unless they are positioned on the highest pedestal and qualified in balloting, and allowing or continuing permanent member children and their children to use the comforts of the club by changing tickets as they are aging:

“It appears that whiff of imperialism has not gone off, rather it has been ingrained in it. By this, knowingly or unknowingly, a class of people, in the name of privilege, have erected an unbuilt wall around the club not permitting the people to have that whiff which they have been having for about decades,” said the acting president in the order.

The NCLT declined to suspend the General Committee (GC) of the Delhi Gymkhana Club and also the appointment of administrator as sought by the Centre, instead directed the Centre to appoint two of its nominees in the GC to monitor the affairs of the Club along with other GC Members and give suggestions.

The bench noted that there are many allegations and indeed statements of the club, reflecting it has violated many provisions of the Companies Act 2013, primarily changing Articles for opening of new windows to the children of the permanent members and their children to using the benefits of the Club through green card, then UCP, and finally membership.

“The children of members, whether they are alive or late, their children will fit in one or other slot, but whereas persons deposited lakhs and lakhs of rupees dozing at the entry gate for decades hoping entry gate will open to them one day. For decades this money has been lying in the company, not as liability but as income and users enjoying,” noted the bench.

The Ministry of Corporate Affairs contended that the club was built on the land of the state, it is a club registered under Section 8 with an avowed object for promoting sports and other activities including pastimes, but “no perceptible work or dedication towards promotion of sports”.

“Mostly on pastimes such as drinking wine and whisky. No doubt it is for relaxing, but relaxing for a few selected people. Maybe some of them are teetotallers, but the Club itself having stated that income and expenditure is mostly from drinks,” observed the bench.

The MCA categorically stated that in the garb of running it as a public club, the management have made it a hereditary club for its members by way of accelerated membership to relations, against the people standing in the queue for over 42 years.

The MCA moved the NCLT to allow the Centre to nominate 15 persons as Directors on the General Committee (GC) of the club to manage its affairs and to suspend the GC and to appoint an administrator nominated by it to manage the affairs of the club. Also, to ban, with immediate effect, acceptance of new membership or fees or any enhancement thereof till the time waitlist applications are disposed of as per the orders of the tribunal.