A day after the Bombay High Court advised the Royal Western India Turf Club (RWITC) and the Local Military Authority (LMA) to find an amicable solution to sort out the differences pertaining to the title of a section of the racecourse land,a team of RWITC committee members will be meeting the LMA in this case the Pune Sub Area over the weekend in Pune.
The RWITC,in December last year,had filed a writ petition claiming that they held 111.5 acres of the land under a lease of perpetuity. The meeting with Sub Area will be followed by the committee meeting in Mumbai on Sunday,wherein the decision of whether or not to withdraw the petition will be taken. The Newsline had reported the dispute in April 2011 subsequent to a Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) report which had said that an encroachment on 24.1 acres of defence land was done by RWITC.
Speaking to Newsline from Mumbai,Vivek Jain,chairman,RWITC said,A meeting has been scheduled with the Army officials,wherein a workable solution suitable for both the parties will be discussed. The decision about whether or not to withdraw the writ petition has yet not been taken. It will only be after the meeting with the Army and the committee meeting on Sunday the decision will be taken. The further hearing in the case has been scheduled for March 26.
The dispute revolves around a lease deed dated February 16,1907. While the RWITC has been claiming that an area measuring 111.5 acres has been leased in perpetuity to the club,the Army has maintained that the area is 11.5 acres and not 111.5 as claimed by the club. The Army has been supporting the argument by referring to the lease deed in which the said piece of land it makes the ring-like racing track of the club is described as bounded by the 65.13 acres of General Parade Ground (GPG) from inside the ring and other plots (mentioned specifically in the deed) on the outer periphery. The Army has maintained that the GPG is an A1 defence land. Army has also maintained that the area covered under the indenture is a total of 18.70 acres including the 11.5 acres of racetrack strip and two other plots measuring 4.6 acres and 2.6 acres.
It may be noted that two Memorandas of Understanding (MoUs) were signed between the RWITC and the Army on August 14,1997 and on August 5,2000. Interestingly,the 1997 MoU was signed with a goodwill gesture to formalise the excellent relationship since 1907 while the MoU in 2000 was to further strengthen the existing cordial relations between the Army and the RWITC. Today,various clauses of the MoUs are also being disputed between the two parties.
When contacted,an official in the Army said,We will live by the 1907 lease deed and the MoUs. We are duty-bound to protect the law.