Mumbai: Gymkhanas move court to fight government's renewed lease agreement
While Islam Gymkhana and Hindu Gymkhana have already moved Bombay High Court, Parsi Gymkhana will file a writ petition on similar grounds next week
Continuing their opposition to the new guidelines set by the state government for renewal of their lease agreements, despite receiving ultimatums from the city collector, several city gymkhanas have taken the legal route to challenge the revised rents. While Islam Gymkhana and Hindu Gymkhana have already moved Bombay High Court, Parsi Gymkhana will file a writ petition on similar grounds next week.
Hindu Gymkhana was the first to file its petition on August 31, even before receiving a notice from the collectorate directing payment of rent of R31.27 lakh for 2017-18, failing which the collector would take over the land. "As per court's directions, we cleared the dues and paid R31.27 lakh in protest. We are contesting the entire amount and other terms, such as the 4 per cent annual increase in rent," said Pranav Chikhal, joint secretary of Hindu Gymkhana. Gymkhana administration officials said the decision to move court was taken after the collector stopped issuing permissions for their events after they'd refused to pay the amount.
Similarly, Islam Gymkhana filed a petition last week after receiving a notice, which asked for a rent of R19.65 lakh for 2017-18. "We want the new guidelines to be reasonable. We are occupying only 20 per cent of the entire land. It is unfair that we are being charged for all of it; they should levy a lower rate for 80 per cent of the ground, which is open to the public," said an official.
Terming the GR and the collector's notice as "illegal, exorbitant, contrary to the principles of natural justice", he added that since Islam Gymkhana has been occupying the land for the last 127 years, the formula for calculating the rent should resemble that of the Pagdi system. With respect to Parsi Gymkhana, which received the notice last, officials said they are planning to file the case soon. "It's an astronomical jump from R900 to R14.5 lakh, and the 4 per cent annual increase is absolutely unacceptable. These are public grounds, meant for the promotion of culture and sport. How can the government levy such high charges?" asked the official.
Of the R29.5 lakh that the Parsi Gymkhana will have to shell out, it paid one year's rent of R14.5 lakh 10 days ago and will be challenging the entire amount in court. The official added that other terms, such as the collector to be an ex-officio member of the board, aren't acceptable to the gymkhana administration.
When contacted, officials from the collectorate said they will take action as per the notices served. "We will act as per the law. If there is no stay granted in the matter, we will take action against the gymkhanas, as mentioned in the notices, if they fail to clear their dues," said an official.
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