Races

Allow MAM Ramaswamy Trust horses to participate: Madras HC’s directive to MRC

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Judge says trust’s jockeys also entitled to use gold-brown racing colours

The Madras High Court on Friday restrained Madras Race Club (MRC) from directly or indirectly preventing the participation of horses owned by Dr. M.A.M. Ramaswamy Chettiar of Chettinad Charitable Trust, represented by A.C. Muthiah, in its races. 

The court also ordered that the jockeys of the Trust should be allowed to wear the gold-brown belt jersey.

Justice Senthilkumar Ramamoorthy further allowed the Trust to take its horses from the custody of the club for participation in races across the country. 

When it was brought to the notice of the judge that the next set of races was to commence from Tuesday, he ordered that the horses of the trust should be allowed forthwith to participate in the handicap and classic races.

The interim orders were passed on a civil suit filed by the Trust to declare as illegal, null and void a decision taken by MRC’s Stewards Committee on December 26 to not allow the horses of the trust to participate in its races.

Dispute

Tracing the history of the dispute, the judge recalled that industrialist M.A.M. Ramaswamy owned a large number of horses before his death on December 2, 2015. 

Those horses participated in races conducted at MRC and other racing centres in the country. In April 2008, he had executed a power of attorney in favour of trainer Robert Foley with the respect to the horses.

Thereafter, disputes arose between him and his adopted son M.A.M.R. Muthiah. 

In February 2015, the industrialist formed two trusts, one a public trust titled Dr. M.A.M. Ramaswamy Chettiar of Chettinad Charitable Trust and a private trust named Dr. M.A.M. Ramaswamy Chettiar Trust.

The ownership of the horses were reportedly transferred by Mr. Foley to the private trust on November 16, 2015. 

However, pursuant to the death of the industrialist, all properties, including the horses, owned by the private trust had supposedly got transferred to the public trust.

Further, the public trust too, on its own, had purchased 62 more horses from various breeders since December 2015 and registered them under the MRC rules and regulations. 

The trust now complained that MRC was preventing the 62 horses from participating after M.A.M.R. Muthiah had got elected as the chairman of the club in November 2019.

Club’s contention

Denying the charge, the club informed the court that the decision to prevent the horses of the club was taken by a six-member Stewards Committee comprising of members with a sterling reputation and unimpeachable integrity. It was also pointed out that Mr. Muthiah was consciously not made part of the committee to avoid conflict of interest.

On the merits of the dispute, the club stated that its rules do not permit registration of a public trust as owners of horses since the owner must be a legal owner and not an equitable owner. 

It was also argued that the transfer of ownership of the horses had happened under highly suspicious circumstances on the day of the death of the industrialist.

After hearing both sides, the judge concluded that the public trust had made out a strong prima facie case for grant of interim orders since its horses had been participating in the races conducted by MRC for the last four years. He also did not find any prohibition in the rules of club for the participation of horses owned by a public trust.

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Printable version | Jan 28, 2020 1:26:03 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/sport/races/allow-mam-ramaswamy-trust-horses-to-participate-in-races-hc-directs-mrc/article30537030.ece

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