Madras HC Orders Ootacamund Gymkhana Club to Pay Rs 31.17 Crore Arrears to Tamil Nadu Government Within a Month

Madras High court law insider

LI Network

Published on: 10 September 2023 at 13:30 IST

The Madras High Court has issued a directive to the Ootacamund Gymkhana Club, instructing them to remit outstanding lease rent arrears totaling Rs 31.17 crore to the Tamil Nadu government within a span of one month.

This action was taken following a legal dispute over a lease agreement involving the club and the state government.

The Tamil Nadu government had initially leased 5.47 acres of land to the Ootacamund Gymkhana Club in the Udhagamandalam town, located within the Nilgiris district, with the intention of promoting sports and golfing activities.

Justice S.M. Subramaniam, who presided over the case, emphasized that failure by the club to comply with this directive would result in immediate eviction from the premises. Furthermore, the government would take control of the valuable town property for the greater benefit of the general public.

Justice Subramaniam outlined that, subsequent to the club’s eviction, relevant authorities must initiate all necessary actions to recover the outstanding rent arrears due to the government by following the established legal procedures.

The case arose from petitions filed by the Ootacamund Gymkhana Club, contesting a demand notice for lease rent arrears issued by the Tahsildar.

The judge noted that the District Collector of Nilgiris had already declined the petitioner’s request for reconsideration of the lease rent back on June 30, 2018.

This decision was made after a thorough examination of the facts, circumstances, and government orders, particularly one dated August 31, 1998, to which the lessee had agreed in the lease agreement dated October 26, 1998.

The calculation of the lease rent followed government guidelines, and despite the authorities’ demand for payment, the petitioner had only remitted a nominal sum of Rs 5,02,775 as a final settlement.

This behavior, according to the judge, demonstrated the club’s confidence in its ability to continue using government-owned land for an extended period without fulfilling its obligation to pay the revised lease rent.

The petitioner’s counsel argued that influential individuals, including ministers and constitutional authorities, frequented the club. However, the judge dismissed these claims, asserting that they indicated the club’s lack of intent to settle the outstanding lease rent as determined by the revenue authorities.

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