CMO seeks legal opinion on revoking turf club licence

The BTC owes Rs 32.86 crore to the government as annual rent for a period between 2010-11 and 2017-18.

The chief minister’s office (CMO) has sought a legal opinion from the advocate-general on the public accounts committee’s recommendation to suspend the licence of the Bangalore Turf Club, where racing activities continue as usual. 

According to highly-placed sources in the government, following the PAC meeting on Tuesday, the recommendation was forwarded to the CMO for consideration. The CMO, in turn, has asked AG Prabhuling Navadgi for his views and is awaiting his opinion. 

On Tuesday, the PAC chaired by former minister H K Patil had recommended that the turf club’s licence be suspended. This followed a previous recommendation by the committee to halt all racing activities from December 2 onwards. 

The PAC has argued that the BTC’s functioning is unauthorised as its lease period has expired. Besides, the club owes an estimated Rs 32.86 crore to the government in the form of annual rent for a period between 2010-11 and 2017-18. 

BTC Chairman D Vinod Sivappa said they had not received any official communication from the government in this regard. “We can decide on the future course of action only after an official communication comes from the government. Till now, we haven’t received any,” he said. 

While the case is pending before Supreme Court, sources in the turf club said they were likely to seek legal recourse if the state government decided to revoke the licence.

“The Supreme Court has directed a status quo on the matter. Any notice issued is against the court’s decision,” the sources said. 

Even as the government awaits the AG’s decision in this regard, documents reviewed by DH show that the advocate-general was against the previous recommendation made by the PAC to collect rent arrears. 

“...Any demand of rent at this stage may be viewed as a violation of the undertaking given by the then learned advocate-general on 07.09.2010. It is therefore advised that the proposed notice be kept on hold until the Supreme Court hears and disposes of the appeal, or further orders in this regard is obtained by the Supreme Court (sic),” Navadgi stated in a letter to the Law Department on November 22, three days after the PAC’s first recommendation in this regard. 

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