Camp, 4th January 2024: The Defence Estates Department, Southern Command, has issued a directive to the Defence Estates Officer (DEO) Pune to take control of the New Club (Poona) Ltd, a well-known venue for marriages and entertainment in Pune Cantonment. The action is a result of the club’s failure to pay outstanding dues amounting to Rs 17 crores and the expiration of its lease.
Situated in bungalow number 2 on Rajendrasinhji, the New Club has been a hub for significant events such as marriage receptions and social gatherings. The order specifies the initiation of immediate action under the PPE Act 1971 to seize the premises and recover damages.
The Defence Estate Office reveals that the club management has neglected its responsibilities for the past five years, exploiting the property for lucrative wedding events and memberships without remitting any payment to the government. In response to the recent directives from the Directorate of Defence Estates, the DEO Pune has been instructed to carry out swift eviction, impose damage charges, file an FIR, and seal the property.
Taking prompt action, the DEO has initiated PPE Act proceedings for eviction, serving a damage charge of Rs 17 crores for recovery from the club. Interestingly, the DEO Pune office is situated directly opposite the New Poona Club.
Earlier attempts by the DEO to communicate with the club regarding pending dues went unanswered, leading to the current legal actions under the PPE Act. Former club members, in a complaint to the Ministry of Defence, assert that the club, operating on a bungalow property leased to the New Club, has unlawfully occupied the premises for five years since the lease expired.
The Southern Command headquarters and sub-area office had rejected the club’s request for lease renewal, citing illegal operations involving a restaurant, liquor bar, and an unauthorized marriage and party lawn. Despite objections from the army, the principal director of the Southern Command has not taken action, allowing the club to continue collecting fees from new members, even post-lease expiry.
The club’s website narrates its inception in 1918 and its official incorporation as The New Club (Poona) Ltd in 1948.
Responding to the current developments, Ajit Singh Rajpal, President of the New Club (Poona) Ltd, stated that they have approached the court, and a hearing is scheduled for January 9. Rajpal claims the club holds an extended lease of up to 25 years, with the 99-year lease expiring six years ago. Regarding the arrears, he dismisses it as a typographical error, suggesting the amount could be exaggerated.