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  Opinion   Columnists  17 Dec 2020  Dilip Cherian | Gymkhana divided on suspension of ex-babu

Dilip Cherian | Gymkhana divided on suspension of ex-babu

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Published : Dec 17, 2020, 8:56 am IST
Updated : Dec 17, 2020, 8:56 am IST

Its elections are a hotly contested affair, often leading to accusations of use of 'illegal' and 'unlawful' means between the contestants

The Delhi Gymkhana Club. Photo: delhigymkhana.org.in
 The Delhi Gymkhana Club. Photo: delhigymkhana.org.in

Due to various complex rules around admission, the Delhi Gymkhana Club has maintained its exclusive “aura” for 107 years. Its governing body is comprised of various retired government and defence officials as well as other private citizens. Its elections are a hotly contested affair, often leading to accusations of use of “illegal” and “unlawful” means between the contestants.

These days the club is roiled by a letter written by 50 members collectively to the club president expressing their outrage at the “arbitrary decision” of the governing body. One of the issues that has riled members is the proposed suspension of a member, Dr Parvez Hayat, a retired IPS officer, for a day and further debarring him from contesting the club elections. Sources say that the member’s suspension was the result of allegations levelled against him by vice-admiral B.S. Randhawa. The letter alleged that the club authorities did not observe the rules and due process before taking the decision to suspend the retired IPS officer.

 

Such controversies are not new. Earlier this year, the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) had ruled that the club was acting in a manner “prejudicial to public interest” and, therefore, must be probed. It said that a five-member central government appointed panel should investigate the affairs of the club, including land usage and its admission policy for members.

Upright babu riles Uttarakhand minister

These days your average babu can rarely say “no” to a minister. Blind obedience is what is expected from them, leaving little room for independent decision-making. But like always, there are exceptions to the rule. An instance from Uttarakhand has recently come to light. There is even a touch of the bizarre about it!

 

The state’s minister of women and child welfare, Rekha Arya, reportedly wrote to the DIG of Dehradun, Arun Mohan Joshi, inquiring about her additional secretary V. Shanmugam, who, she said, was “missing”. And since the officer was “incommunicado”, she feared he might have been kidnapped!

As it turns out, according to sources, trouble had been brewing between the minister and the IAS officer for some time. Matters came to a head sometime in September when Mr Shanmugam awarded a contract in a tender possibly against the wishes of the minister. Subsequently, he went into a two-day “self-isolation” and did not take any calls from his office or the minister.

 

The irate mantri forced chief minister Trivendra Rawat to order an inquiry into the award of the contract, but additional chief secretary Manisha Panwar has reported that the probe did not find any misconduct by Mr Shanmugam. Further, Mr Panwar has stated that the officer had followed due process while awarding the contract and while going on leave. This is where matters rest, for now. It remains to be seen whether the minister will pursue the issue further or let it fly. It would also be interesting to see if the babu manages to hold on to his post or gets transferred elsewhere.

Contrast this with a powerful babu in Delhi who did not vanish after his “gaffe”. Immense sweeping powers and other capabilities were exercised in Delhi and his statement vanished instead. What was reported in the media (of course, the story was promptly withdrawn, though the video exists!) on questioning the credentials of democracy itself led to much speculation whether this was just a gaffe or something more!

 

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Tags: delhi gymkhana club, national company law tribunal, uttarakhand minister rekha arya