Panel: fine clubs which refuse membership to legislators

Panel: fine clubs which refuse membership to legislators

A Legislative Assembly committee on the functioning of private clubs on Tuesday recommended hefty fines on clubs denying membership to legislators.

According to the draft Bill prepared by the committee, refusing membership to legislators or violating provisions pertaining to the dress code will attract Rs 1 lakh fine and imprisonment of up to six months. The club’s licence and land lease agreement are also liable for cancellation, in case it is on government land. The draft Bill is part of a report submitted by the committee in the Assembly.

Besides, the draft Bill has a provision for the local police and revenue authorities to conduct surprise inspections and search clubs without a warrant. A police officer below the rank of inspector and tahsildar can search and seize things if she/he has a reason to believe that the club is used for gambling or any illegal activity.

There was no provision for conducting searches without warrant in the old draft Bill that was notified in September 2015. However, the new draft appears to be less harsh compared to the old one – Karnataka Entry into Public Places (Removal of Restriction on Dress and Regulation of Membership and Fee) Bill, 2015 – as far as providing membership to legislators and regulating membership fees go.

The old draft, that the Stamps and Registration Department withdrew after notifying it, had proposed membership to legislators in all clubs, irrespective of whether the clubs received government benefits or not. And legislators were free to become members of any number of clubs anywhere in the state. The department dropped the old draft Bill as it received hundreds of mails from the public opposing it.

Further, the new draft Bill is ambiguous as far as its applicability to companies or corporate bodies goes. Though the draft Bill has explained who in a company will be held responsible for any violation, the company is not included in the definition of club and public places.

Land for Constitutional Club
This is not all. The committee has recommended that all necessary steps should be taken to establish the Constitution Club of Karnataka for sitting and former legislators in the state. Suitable land should be allotted immediately. The panel has said that measures should be taken to enter into a memorandum of understanding with the Constitution Club of India, Delhi.

The committee has said that an amendment to the Karnataka Town and Country Planning Act should be brought in, making it mandatory for developers to earmark land for setting up clubs. For layouts planned on land measuring 25 acres and above, setting up of clubs should be mandatory. This apart, the panel has recommended to the government to allot land in all taluk headquarters for setting up clubs.
DH News Service

Appeal to Centre
The club committee also urged the Centre to enact legislation for regulating the activities of clubs in the country. The panel members had met all three Union ministers from Karnataka in January last year and informed them about the need for enacting legislation in this regard. 

About the panel
The committee was first set up in 2012-13. It submitted an interim report in June, 2013. Congress MLA from Shanthinagar N A Haris is its chairman. H D Revanna, Ajay Dharam Singh, T Raghumurthy, Vasu, B Y Raghavendra and Guru Patil Shiraval are its members. 

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