Kerala government allowed to take over golf club (Second Lead)June 17th, 2010 - 8:27 pm ICT by IANS
New Delhi, June 17 (IANS) The Supreme Court Thursday cleared the decks for the takeover by the Kerala government of the Trivandrum Golf Club and the state’s only golf course.
The court constituted a committee that will be headed by the state chief secretary to manage day to day affairs of the club that managed the golf course.
The 9-hole golf course spread over 25 acres was established by the royal family of Travancore in 1850. On Nov 11, 1966, the course was handed over to the club under licence for 99 years.
One of the provisions of the licence says that 30 years after the grant of licence, the state government could terminate it after giving a two-year notice. The notice period ends November 2010.
The court declined to interfere with the impugned order of the Kerala High Court by which it had declined to stay the state government’s order cancelling the TGC’s licence on the grounds of misuse of the facilities and misrepresentation for securing bar licence.
The committee set up by the apex court will have six representatives of the state government and four of the TGC.
Besides the chief secretary, the other government representatives in the committee include deputy commissioner, Trivandrum, secretary, tourism department, chief engineer, land and building department, and director, Kerala Sports Council (KSC).
The representatives from the TGC would be its president, honorary secretary, captain and a member of the executive committee.
The apex court has also directed the trial court to complete hearing a civil suit related to the issue within three months from the date of the receipt of its order.
The court also protected the interest of nearly 600 existing members of the TGC and the staff members of the club.
The itinerary of the golf competitions already announced would not be disturbed, the court said, directing the committee to prepare an inventory of the assets belonging to the club.
The vacation bench of the Supreme Court headed by Justice Deepak Verma and comprising Justice K.S. Radhakrishnan seemed to harbour misgivings about the ability of the state government in managing the golf course.
This was evident when Justice Verma observed: “How will you run the TGC. Difficulty arises with the expertise that is needed to maintain and run the golf course.”
Raising questions about the state government’s aptitude in golf, Justice Verma wondered why in a jumbo-sized KSC that was constituted way back in 2005, there was no nominee from the golf discipline.
Apparently, Justice Verma said, “Kerala does not feel that golf is even a sport”.
The KSC which is a statutory apex sports body has more than 85 members from different sports.
At this, senior counsel Jaideep Gupta appearing for the state government said: “We are running a state”.
“The state government was composed of politicians and bureaucrats…and We can always have experts to run the golf course,” he said.
Gupta said that petitioner TGC’s case was not covered under article 14 of the constitution guaranteeing equality before law.
At this, Justice Verma said: “Do you think they have no fundamental rights and (they are) at the mercy of your whims and fancies.”
Senior counsel Shyam Divan appearing for the TGC mocked the state government’s contention that it wanted to transform the class character of the elitist game of golf to a commoner’s game.
He said that while the TGC was charging Rs. one lakh as membership fee, the Delhi Development Authority-run people’s golf club in the capital was charging Rs.1.75 lakh as membership fee.
The golf club located at Cochin International Airport was charging Rs.2 lakh as membership fee, he said.
Divan was assisted by A. Abdul Kharim, who contested the matter in the high court, said KSC could manage stadia which it had in plenty but not the golf course which it had none.
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Tags: apex, apex court, chief engineer, chief secretary, civil suit, deputy commissioner, golf competitions, government representatives, hole golf course, honorary secretary, kerala high court, misrepresentation, notice period, royal family, sports council, state government, tgc, tourism department, travancore, trial court