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HIGH COURT PUTS THE BALL BACK INTO GOVERNMENT'S COURT
BANGALORE
By Ikram Khan
Tuesday 05 Dec 2017
Ikram Khan

Now with the ball back in the government court, there is a good chance that racing operations can start in city only if the government agrees to the suggestion made by Justice Bopanna to form a separate committee to oversee racing operations till the writ petition is disposed of.

On Monday Justice Bopanna hearing the matter indicated that an interim order sought by the Bangalore Turf Club (BTC) to gain licence and start racing is not possible at this stage. But taking into consideration that the racing fraternity is hit hard, he suggested  the government to form a separate committee to oversee racing activities while the sport is back on track and until the writ petition is disposed of.

But what if the government is not interested in conducting the sport and decide to hold back the licence till the release of the CID report. This effectively will put the racing fraternity in big trouble, the petition not likely to be disposed in the next three months.  

Another point is even if they do agree to the suggestion of the court and form a separate committee which in effect means that BTC management will have to step aside, will the BTC accept to fall in line. Well the answers to the two questions will come on Tuesday, Dec 12.

Following doping cover-up, betting syndicates and tax evasion issues made by a horse owner Chandre Gowda and former chairman Harinder Shetty by BTC the government had ordered a CID enquiry. The CID report, it is learnt is ready to be tabled. And the government is clear that they will not provide the licence until the report is released.  

It maybe recalled that the government had sought 50 memberships for its nominees, but the Special General Body Meeting of the club rejected the proposal on Nov 15. The government, however, has clarified that licence was not linked to membership. But the fact is that the membership card was played out and was rejected by BTC members fearing that this could become the accepted pattern, another government demanding the same, each time a new government is formed.

The Advocate General pointed out on Monday that the club had not applied for the conduct of license in the prescribed format and then within a day of applying for the license, they had filed a writ petition which was liable to be dismissed.  BTC’s Senior Counsel Naganand defended, submitting the forms and pointing out that the club had made no mistake while applying for the licence. Naganand also pointed out to the judge that since there are already four government nominees in the committee of the club, there is no need for a separate committee to oversee racing activities and the existing system should continue. The advocates for the Karnataka Trainers Association (KTA) and the Stable Employees pleaded that all they were interested in is racing back on track and they are not interested, who runs the show. The show must go on, be it a retired judge in chair or a government nominated special committee.

Justice Bopanna finally suggested that the government consider appointing a committee to run racing to ensure that the sport is not stopped and the racing fraternity should not suffer. He suggested to the advocate general to get back with the views of the government on or before December 12. And that is the next appointed day for a solution at this premier racing centre.

BTC Chairman Harimohan Naidu said: “While the suggestion by the Court is satisfactory we have to see how the modalities would be worked out. It is not clear at this stage and only after the government makes it clear in the next hearing on how they propose to go about if they decide to embrace the court suggestion we will need to put our point of view.”