Mumbai: Wilson College Alumni Submits Interim Application To Be Heard In Gymkhana Lease Case At Bombay HC

Mumbai: Wilson College Alumni Submits Interim Application To Be Heard In Gymkhana Lease Case At Bombay HC

The alumni have said that the gymkhana will use the ground for only sports activities, except for 45 days when it can be rented.

Manoj RamakrishnanUpdated: Thursday, April 04, 2024, 02:18 AM IST
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Wilson College (Website)

The alumni association of Wilson College, Chowpatty, has filed an interim application in the Bombay High Court, seeking their inclusion in the writ petition filed by the college trust against the District Collector's order in December 2023 that canceled the lease to its Marine Drive gymkhana.

Alllegations Made By Advocate Rajan Jayakar

The interim application, filed by advocate Rajan Jayakar, president of the Wilson College Alumni Association, has alleged that the District Collector's order was 'arbitrary', and was taken 'without following due process of law'. The association said it did not have the time to collect and collate documents to file its petition and had no alternative but to file the interim application. The association said that it supported the college in its efforts to get back the ground for the benefit of the student fraternity. The association said that they had used the facilities at the gymkhana for cricket, football, table tennis, carrom, and other sports. The application says that students are not in a position to redress their grievances as a group, and the applicant is entitled to represent the past, present, and future students who would be perpetually deprived of sporting facilities.

Jayakar said, "The interim application is filed by the Alumni Association of Wilson College for protecting the rights of students of Wilson College, Wilson High School, and St.Columba School to enable the continuation of sporting activities which were discontinued for no fault of the students who have been paying gymkhana fee regularly." Jayakar added that the application is scheduled for a hearing on April 8.

Writ Petition Filed By Wilson College In Bombay HC

Last week, the college filed a Writ Petition in the Bombay High Court against the Maharashtra government and the District Collector, saying that the order of the District Collector in December 2023, canceling the lease was 'arbitrary' and that the collector 'did not give the petitioners a reasonable opportunity of being heard'.

Details Of The Interim Application Submitted By The Alumni

The application says that at a meeting on March 24, parents of students said they were paying fees for the gymkhana but were not getting sporting facilities there. The petition was filed by the United Church of North India Trust Association (UCNITA) which owned the lease on the gymkhana land. The college is managed by the John Wilson Education Society.

The lease on the gymkhana has been with the college for over a century, but on March 16 the Maharashtra state government announced that the 1.02 lakh square meter plot will be given to the Jain community. Only after the announcement of the Jain gymkhana that members of the Church of North India (CNI), a Protestant denomination that inherited the college from the Church of Scotland, raised an alarm in the media. Following this, it was revealed that the lease deed between the government and UCNITA signed in September 1998 expired in December 1999. Under new lease policy rules the state government allowed the college to use the gymkhana at a higher lease rent, but there were allegations that the land was being rented out for events.

Legal Battle Outcome For Wilson College's Gymkhana

After an inquiry into the mismanagement of the plot, the District Collector, on December 5, 2023, decided to take over the land. UCNITA challenged this order before the Maharashtra Revenue Tribunal which on March 11, 2024, dismissed the appeal. The application by the alumni says that though the government has announced the allotment of the land to the Jains, physical possession has not been given to the Jain International Organisation.

The alumni have said that the gymkhana will use the ground for only sports activities, except for 45 days when it can be rented. This concession, the application says, is because unlike other gymkhanas on Marine Drive that are run as clubs with a membership fee, the Wilson College Gymkhana has no other source of income.

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