Premier clubs on sticky wicket as Collector freezes bank accounts

He instructed the tahsildars to contact the banks concerned and take action to freeze the accounts and “subsequently transfer the amount in the said bank account to the Lease Rent Payment Head of Account.”

A source said ₹3.4 crore was transferred from the bank accounts of the TNCA. A top official of a leading private bank also confirmed that money was remitted to the government from accounts of the TNCA and the MRC.

Contesting the action, R. Ramakrishnan, chairman, MRC, said, “There is no legal provision for appropriating funds from the bank accounts. At the most, they can attach the funds under the Revenue Recovery Act and they should have given us time to avail legal remedy.” Giving a historical perspective, he said, about 160 acres of Revenue Department land were leased out to MRC in April 1945 for 99 years for a fixed annual revenue payment of ₹614 initially.

In the 1980s, the lease amount was revised with retrospective effect from 1975 which was contested by the club in the court. While so, the State government set up a Department of Racing and managed the racing activities between 1986 and 1996. Following a Supreme Court order, the MRC was allowed to run the club. And now in 2017, the State government has calculated a revised lease amount of ₹730 crore for the period 1994 – 2017 and issued demand notices to the club.

Mr. Ramakrishnan questioned the revision of lease amount as the lease agreement was valid till 2044.

Senior Steward in the MRC Committee of Management, Ramesh Rangarajan pointed out that the MRC had parted with land whenever the government wanted to acquire it for purposes such as the bus stand in Guindy, the metro rail service, and widening of roads.

He said it is incorrect to calculate dues on the basis that the club is situated on a 160-acre property.

“Though the lands leased out initially comprised 160 acres, after giving lands for various government projects, only about 100-odd acres are with the MRC,” he said.

The MRC has submitted a representation to Chennai Collector seeking to release the funds and go in for arbitration with the Board members.

Amount owed disputed

Meanwhile, the TNCA has disputed the lease rent arrears calculated at ₹1,550 crore.

A top TNCA source said: “Both our accounts at the IOB have been frozen. It’s a very difficult situation for us.” He added, “We don’t know how we can give the government ₹1,550 crore.”

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