Lt. Governor of Delhi

On the face of it, the "Pay & Play" option gives members of the public the opportunity to access golf courses built on public land, such as the Delhi Golf Club, the Army Golf Club and the Qutab Golf Club at a nominal fee.

In practice however, the predatory, non-regulated and discriminatory pricing followed by the management of these clubs is designed to ensure that only the "rich" amongst the general public are allowed access. Moreover, by unilaterally hiking prices for the general public without consultation or any sort of review process that involves the general public, these clubs are becoming elite bastions for big business, bureaucrats, armed forces personnel, politicians, the well networked and the wealthy with discriminatory pricing targeting the common man, sending a strong message that he or she isn't welcome.

Take the Qutab Golf Club for example: Till November 30th, 2013 the "Pay & Play" rates for the general public were Rs. 300 on weekdays and Rs. 600 on weekends. On December 1st, 2013 with no advance notice, the rates were hiked by 100% for all categories of the general public! There is absolutely no justification for this hike, given that this course has come up on public land and membership to the general public is closed. Consequently the only way the general public can access this course is through so called "corporate" memberships or the "Pay & Play" route. At best an annual increase linked to the rate of inflation, about 10 to 12% can be justified and hikes of this extent have been made every couple of years. Anything else is arbitrary, high handed and misguided and must be immediately withdrawn.

The Qutab Golf Club was the one course in Delhi, with reasonable green fees, where the public was always welcome. This was truly a one of a kind public course with hundreds of golfers in Delhi and NCR having started their golfing journey here. Reasonable "Pay & Play" fees for the general public ensured that golf wasn't positioned as an elite sport, meant only for the rich, but a sport that anyone could take up. By unilaterally hiking the fee for the public by 100%, the DDA appears to be sending out a message that only the rich and super rich amongst the public are welcome here, to rub shoulders with the bureaucrats who dominate membership of this club. This is unacceptable.

What is happening at Qutab is a reflection of a deeper malice that has set in amongst golf clubs and courses across Delhi that are supposed to be open to the public on account of the vast tracts of public land they've been allocated for a pittance.

At the Delhi Golf Club, that occupies 220 acres of prime public land in the heart of the city, the "Pay & Play" rates for the general public that used to be Rs. 300 and Rs. 600 for weekdays and weekends till just a couple of years ago, have now escalated to a whopping Rs. 3,100 on weekdays and Rs. 4,600 on weekends! To take the discrimination practiced even further; a member’s guest pays only Rs. 700 on weekdays and Rs. 1,100 on weekends! Clearly the pricing is designed to ensure that the "general public" doesn't show up, to claim their playing rights!

Similarly, the Army Golf Club, built on 49 acres of public land, supposedly allocated for training army personnel, has followed the same strategy! The rate on weekdays is Rs. 1000/ and the weekend rate an astronomical Rs. 2,000! Just about a year ago, these rates were Rs 300/ for the weekday and Rs. 600 for the weekend! Over here, the discrimination against the general public is taken to ludicrous levels. For instance, a non-member from the armed forces pays just Rs 75 on the weekdays and Rs. 150 on the weekends!

It's obvious from the pricing stated above, that the objective is to ensure that the general public is priced out of these courses, even while the law requires them to be accessible to the public. There are many judgments of the Supreme Court that refer to the spirit of the law being upheld, not just its form. The examples we're pointing out in this petition are classic examples of the spirit of the law being abused, even while the form is maintained.

We, the undersigned, call on the Lt. Governor of Delhi to ensure that:

1. "Pay & Play" rates for the general public at all sporting facilities and clubs operating on public land be regulated by the Government with representatives of the public involved with the process.

2. The recent 100% increase in "Pay & Play" rates at Qutab Golf Course be reversed and any increases in the future not exceed 10% per year, with the rates that were prevalent as of November 30th, 2013 be taken as the base rate. Moreover, "Pay & Play" rates for the general public be standardized across all courses built on public land in Delhi, with the rate being charged at Qutab Golf Course set as the base or standard rate.

3. At least 50 permanent memberships a year at the Qutab Golf Course, be made available to the general public through a draw of lots across different handicap categories, thus increasing the base of public memberships at this club.

4. Subsidized rates for students, senior citizens and under privileged children from across Delhi.

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The The PUBLIC Has A Right To PLAY ! petition to Lt. Governor of Delhi was written by nikhil alva and is in the category Sports at GoPetition.