By- Shreeya Shukla

Two present & three former Union ministers, the chief of defence staff, the governor of RBI, a number of secretaries, senior military officers as well as a host of judges of the HC & the SC are among the “eminent members” of Delhi Gymkhana Club.

The “eminent” category has been challenged by the ministry of corporate affairs in the National Company Law Tribunal.

One of the mainstays of MCA’s petition, moved in tribunal last month to take over the club, is the arbitrary grant of membership under the categories that violate its Articles of Association (AoA), such as the“eminent members”, “green card holders” & “lady subscribers”.

According to list of the eminent members accessed and filed by the MCA in the tribunal, textile minister Smriti Irani, personnel, public grievances and pensions minister Jitendra Singh, former Union minister of commerce Suresh Prabhu, former Union minister of steel Birender Singh, former Union minister health and family welfare Shatrughan Sinha are all eminent members of the club.

Reserve Bank of India governor Shaktikanta Das & chief of the defence staff General Bipin Rawat are also among them.

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At a given time, the Gymkhana Club has 200 eminent members whose term can extend to anywhere between 2 to 5 years at a cost of 1.6 lakhs. Eminent members don’t have voting rights.

“The category was introduced to help increase the club’s status in the year 1976. Eminent membership is granted to a person with the rank of secretary or above in government,” said a former club president.

“This is not membership of the Gymkhana club. They have been granted permission to use club till they are in a position of the eminence or those in eminent positions. They are senior serving government officials such as secretaries, senior military officers or justices,” lieutenant general (retd) DR Soni said.

The MCA, however, in its petition has argued the category “eminent members” is not listed in the AoA. The club in its response, mentioned in the petition, has stated the category is covered under ‘special category members’.

“Special category is for corporate memberships only,” MCA said in its petition.

Other eminent members include the home secretary Ajay Kumar Bhalla, Jammu and Kashmir’s LG Girish Chandra Murmu, senior BJP leader LK Advani, Justice Indu Malhotra, Supreme Court judge Indira Banerjee, Congress’ Rajya Sabha member and Supreme Court lawyer KTS Tulsi, NITI Aayog member Bibek Debroy, and secretary of the department of the defence production Subhash Chandra.

The case was heard by the NCLT for the 3rd day on Monday & the written arguments have to be filed on 26th May after which the tribunal will pronounce its verdict.

“So many of club’s members are a part of the government, so they have been able to get away with many irregularities,” an MCA official said.