A six-member Legislative Assembly committee has come down heavily on the functioning of elite social clubs in Bangalore and Mysore for not only blatantly violating government regulations but also clinging to “administrative rules of the British empire.”
The panel headed by D. Hemachandra Sagar, whose interim report on the functioning of clubs in Bangalore was tabled in the Assembly on Friday, accused clubs in the two major cities for being impregnable for common people and safeguarding the interests of only the rich.
“Some clubs are still following the administrative rules of the British Empire and they are beyond the reach of the common people,” said the report.
The report prepared by committee members of the previous Legislative Assembly (13) visited Golf Club, Century Club, Karnataka State Cricket Association, Bangalore Turf Club, Bowring Institute Club, Bangalore Club, all in Bangalore, and Sri Kanteerava Narasimharaja Sports Club, Club House Mysore Race Club Limited and Jayacharajendra Wadiyar Golf Club and inspected their functioning.
The panel also inspected the functioning of 22 clubs that come under the jurisdiction of the Revenue Department in Bangalore by verifying documents. Several clubs obtained permission to run bar and restaurants in violation of club bye-laws, it said.
The report said membership at the Bowring Institute Club, Bangalore, at a fee of Rs 10 lakh to 15 lakh, had become the right of only a few.
The Karnataka State Cricket Association (KSCA) obtained 16.26 acres from the Public Works Department on lease (Rs 1,000 a year) for 99 years in July 7, 1969. It permitted construction of buildings and received rent. KSCA office-bearers failed to provide information on the rent it is receiving, and permission obtained for construction of building to the panel.
The Bangalore Gulf Club has sub-leased a potion of land to a private company in violation of rules, the committee found.
The panel said clubs have adopted Western dress code and given membership to foreigners and the wealthy with black money. Clubs, which had obtained several benefits from the government, had become exclusive domains of the rich, it noted.
The panel has suggested formulating guidelines for fixing membership fee and creating an environment to provide membership for common people. They should frame rules to permit entry to all citizens who are decently dressed and not impose any other dress code, the committee said.
Clubs were established on lands given either on lease or rent by the government for several years. But the contribution from clubs to the government was negligible. It was found that several Department officials were hand-in-glove with the clubs and encroached government lands, the report said. The panel recommended suitable action against clubs indulging in illegal activities and timely renewal of their leases and rents.
The committee, which submitted interim report on account of shortage of time, recommended constitution of a House committee of the 14th Assembly to fully study the functioning of clubs across the State.