HC stays CIC order on Golf Club
In a relief for Chandigarh Golf Club, the Punjab and Haryana High Court on Monday stayed the operation of an order passed by the Central Information Commission (CIC) whereby the club had been brought under the purview of the Right to Information (RTI) Act.
The High Court issued notices to the CIC to file its response to a petition filed by Chandigarh Golf Club, Sector 6, through its honorary secretary Manpreet Singh Waraich.
Contending on behalf of the petitioner, senior lawyer Anand Chhibbar said the CIC had "erred in taking a myopic and hyper-technical view of the provisions laid down under Section 2 (h) of the Right to Information Act, 2005".
Interestingly, the club has taken the plea that the "Chandigarh Administration is in fact benefiting from leasing out the land to Chandigarh Golf Club, since it ensures maintenance of such area falling under the green belt, wherein Chandigarh Golf Club keeps the green cover intact without any responsibility or expenditure befalling the Chandigarh Administration".
The petition states that "Chandigarh Golf Club is in fact rendering a service to the Chandigarh Administration, and the same is being done without receiving any special financial consideration for the same".
Chhibbar contended that the Chandigarh Golf Club did not fall within the parameters laid down therein, and hence could not be considered to fall within the purview and definition of public authority.
He added that Chandigarh Golf Club was not a commercial establishment, rather it was a social establishment catering to the welfare of the members. "Therefore, to consider Chandigarh Golf Club at par with other commercial establishments and categorising it in a manner whereby commercial rates should prevail in itself is an extremely myopic viewpoint," he argued.
The club, in its petition, submitted that "governmental control would mean that the government has a direct interference in the day-to-day functioning of the Chandigarh Golf Club, which is not the case in the present matter. The three serving IAS officers are nominated to the Managing Committee keeping in mind their expertise and experience in the field of administration. The presence of these members is merely to facilitate smooth functioning of the management by utilising their expertise in the field of administration. Since all decisions are taken by way of majority vote among fifteen members, no direct or indirect control of the government can be said to be prevalent".
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