HC paves the way for change of guard at Breach Candy Club | Mumbai news - Hindustan Times
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HC paves the way for change of guard at Breach Candy Club

Oct 11, 2022 09:41 PM IST

A division bench of justice Gautam Patel and justice Gauri Godse on Monday also directed an ad hoc body of four – Vikram Malik, Jeannette Anand, Marion Panjwani and Sandeep Mehta –to step down from the managing committee

The Bombay high court has allowed a three-member team to take over the management of Breach Candy Swimming Bath Trust, also known as Breach Candy Club. Gerard Shirley, Alan Mooleman and Anya Lehra, all from Shirley group, were elected at an extraordinary general body meeting (EGM) held in October 2013.

Mumbai, India - October 11, 2022: A general outside view of Breach Candy Club, at Peddar Road, in Mumbai, India, on Tuesday, October 11, 2022. (Photo by Bhushan Koyande/HT Photo) (HT PHOTO)
Mumbai, India - October 11, 2022: A general outside view of Breach Candy Club, at Peddar Road, in Mumbai, India, on Tuesday, October 11, 2022. (Photo by Bhushan Koyande/HT Photo) (HT PHOTO)

A division bench of justice Gautam Patel and justice Gauri Godse on Monday also directed an ad hoc body of four – Vikram Malik, Jeannette Anand, Marion Panjwani and Sandeep Mehta –to step down from the managing committee.

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The HC also partly upheld orders passed by two single-judge benches, stating that the ordinary memberships of Dipesh Mehta, who too was on the committee with Malik and others, and Lalit Agrawal, who supported him, were doubtful.

The orders were passed on two different suits filed by Shirley group.

One was filed seeking implementation of the resolutions passed at the EGM held on October 21, 2013 replacing Dipesh, Malik, Anand and Panjwani in the management with Shirley, Mooleman, Giovanni Autunno (now deceased), and Lehra. They also sought interim orders restraining Sandeep and others from continuing to run the affairs.

The second suit was filed by nine members of the elite club, including the four from Shirley group, challenging the orders passed by the Dipesh group suspending their memberships.

In both the cases, the Dipesh group had taken preliminary objections, claiming that the high court had no jurisdiction to try the suits. The single judges, however, rejected the objections.

One of the single-judge benches said Dipesh’s ordinary membership was doubtful and he could not have become a member of the management committee. Later, Dipesh had to resign from his primary membership and quit the committee.

The other judge said the new members elected at the October 2013 EGM could take over the management only after the change report to that effect was validated by the Charity Commissioner – since the trust is registered under the Maharashtra Public Trusts Act, 1950.

The division bench on Monday struck down this part and said since “only Europeans can be trust members and only Europeans can ever be ordinary trustees of the club”, Sandeep could never have been on its managing committee. “Article 14(b)”, the court said, “prohibits ordinary members — indigenous Mumbaikars — from even attending or voting at any general meeting, let alone serving on the committee or any sub-committee of the club.”

About Sandeep’s membership, the HC said there was no such record. “All he has is some season ticket register that shows a number against his name,” the bench said. “He cannot show that he paid an entrance fee. He cannot name his proposer or seconder. There are no minutes of the balloting committee. There are no receipts of annual subscriptions.”

On the other hand, “Agrawal’s entry into membership is, if anything, even more colourful than Sandeep’s,” as all the three members, who had purportedly recommended his membership, or their family members, had told the Gamdevi police – in a related matter – that their signatures on the forms concerned were forged, the HC said.

The high-end members-only club houses two swimming pools, tennis courts, a restaurant, and a bar. The club was started in 1878 but its membership was restricted to Europeans till 1960.

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