IN A clear case of conflict of interest, the Punjab NRI Commission chairman has ordered a probe into the functioning of Chandigarh Club, whose membership he has, on the complaint from another member.
Justice (retd) Rakesh Kumar Garg, who is a senior citizen member of the club, on April 7 ordered the Registrar of Companies (RoC), Punjab, to probe allegations of discrepancies, irregularities and malpractices at the club while hearing a complaint filed by a Zirakpur resident, Sunil Chopra. RoC, Punjab, has jurisdiction over companies registered in Punjab, Chandigarh and Himachal Pradesh.
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Senior advocate Roshan Lal Batta said, “Justice Garg should not have accepted the complaint because of conflict of interest since he is a member of that institution [Chandigarh Club].” In fact, before his elevation as a High Court judge, Garg had even contested the club’s elections in March 2001 to the post of an executive member, but lost.
With more than 8,000 members, Chandigarh Club is one of the oldest clubs of the city. Elections to the executive body of the club were held last month after a gap of 12 years. During the last 12 years, the club had remained involved in one or the other litigation. Chopra’s complaint is also being termed part of the “club politics”.
Complainant Sunil Chopra, as per the club records, is a resident of Sector 18-C, Chandigarh, and not Zirakpur. He has been a member of the club since 1990. However, the commission’s order passed on April 7 mentions, “Complainant is a Canadian passport holder and presently residing at Zirakpur.”
Chopra admits that he is a resident of Chandigarh. “Yes, I have a house in Sector 18, Chandigarh. I am a property consultant and have taken a house on rent at Zirakpur,” he said.
Chandigarh Club president Sandeep Sahni, when contacted, said, “Justice Garg is a senior citizen member of the Club.” On Sunil Chopra’s complaint, Sahni replied, “It is a frivolous complaint and part of a well-hatched conspiracy. It is all part of the club’s politics. As per the club’s rule, if a member changes his/her address, he/she has to inform the club, which has not been done by Sunil Chopra to date.”
“We shall be following legal course of action in this regard,” Sahni added.
Justice Garg did not respond to repeated phone calls, SMSes and WhatsApp messages. One of the calls made on his mobile at 2.33 pm on Monday was answered by a woman who said, “Sir is in a meeting and will be taking rest. You call around 3.30 pm.” Later, a call made at 5.10 pm on Monday was taken by a person who said, “Sahab cannot answer the call. He is in Tawang in Arunachal Pradesh and is not well.” Attempts were made to contact Garg on Tuesday as well, but in vain.