Mumbai: Turf club wants Devendra Fadnavis to defer 15 per cent rule

Apex racing body in last stretch to convince Devendra Fadnavis why condition untenable

The Royal Western India Turf Club (RWITC) committee met yesterday, for a final consensus on the more than 15 per cent controversy. The State government recently has put an addendum or condition in the Horse Race License issued by the government to the RWITC for 2015-2016 and 2016-2017, saying that members must have more than 15 per cent attendance at the races to be considered eligible to vote in elections to the committee. The elections for the new RWITC committee, which has a one-year tenure, will be held in September this year.

Derby day and key races see substantial attendance, but more than 15 per cent is a tall order for club members
Derby day and key races see substantial attendance, but more than 15 per cent is a tall order for club members

The order, was pushed by government nominee to the stewards’ body, Vijay Shirke. Shirke was not present yesterday as he is not part of the RWITC committee, but he had sent a detailed mail to the committee fully in support of the addendum, except saying owners and breeders could be allowed to vote. His main point was that as the Govt. had imposed a code of conduct in last year’s license, they should add this too.

The committee meeting was held at the RWITC Mahalaxmi Committee room at 3 pm, and this particular issue was discussed for half an hour. Committee member Jaydev Mody was absent as he is in the US, but it is learnt that he had sent an email that this particular discussion should be deferred. Mody confirmed over the phone from New York that he wanted it deferred.

Yet, it was discussed, as the club needs to approach CM Devendra Fadnavis soon, to convince him of why this condition, should be removed from the license to race. There was general hesitancy to send it by a few on the committee. But by majority it was decided to send it, after moderating the draft somewhat, said a source. Vivek Jain, media and marketing chief, RWITC, stated that, the RWITC will now send, “a detailed representation in writing to the CM, as well as seeking an appointment with him citing our reasons, opposing this condition.”

Jain added, “A request for a meeting with the CM is pending with his secretariat.” Some of the points the club is to make are:
1. Section 4 of the Bombay Race Course licensing Act does not authorise the government to issue this addendum.

2. The addendum amounts to a direct interference with the management of the RWITC.

3. This amounts to create two categories of members. club members who can vote and those who cannot and it will be inconsistent with the Companies Act.

4. By reducing the number of voters will also reduce the eligible pool of candidates for the committee.

5. The addendum amounts to amending the articles of the club which is ultra vires the provisions of the Companies Act.

Jain though added that legalese and approaching the CM are only one part. One should also pay heed to the members, the lifeblood of the sport, many of who seem upset by the directive. A petition has been signed by members objecting to the condition. They have requesting the club to take such action including legal. “We have about 100 such signatures as of yesterday,” he stated.

The club does not want to take the matter to court, and hopes they can convince the CM to cancel this condition at this level.

The RWITC has about a 2,000-strong member voter base, of which roughly 1,200 members turn up to cast their votes annually. If the new directive of over 15 per cent is enforced, this might halve the number casting

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