GUWAHATI, April 8: The Gauhati High Court has ruled that the entire control and administration of the Assam Flying Club, established by RG Baruah, a pioneer in diverse fields, will be looked after by the Government of Assam and that it is now for the government to revive the present Club in whichever manner it deems best but keeping the financial and administrative control of the Club with itself.
“The Assam Flying Club Private Limited is an instrument of none other but of the State, in whichever form it exists,” the Court ruled, adding, “the efforts made by secretary, Flying Club, Bikrom Singha Lahkar, to change the Cooperative Society into a Society (Registered under the Societies Registration Act, 1860) were again wrong,” the Court observed. It asked Lahkar to hand over the entire property which is in the name of the Flying Club, all documents, articles, etc. which are in his possession, including the keys of the Hangar to the Chief Secretary of the State within ten days. The formal handing over will be done tomorrow, according to sources at the Janata Bhawan.
“There were hence ingenious efforts on the part of Bikrom Singha Lahkar (Secretary, Flying Club) to take control of the affairs of this Flying Club and to bring it under the control of his College of Aeronautical Engineering, which he was running. This was neither just nor proper,” the Court opined in response to a writ petition.
“…His induction as the Secretary of the Club was wrong. What is more important is the fact that Shri Lahkar also runs an aeronautical engineering college which is located not very far from the airport. In fact, ten of the members who attended the meeting held on 03.01.2014 at the residence of the then Chief Minister were the students of the said college,” the Court mentioned.
“The properties which were in the name of the Flying Club belong to the government in the form of the land, aircraft, the moveable and immoveable assets and even intangible assets in the form of the goodwill of the Club, its trademark, its logo. All this cannot go into private hands,” the Court categorically said.
The Court said it did not approve the manner in which the control of the Flying Club was sought to be taken away, although it is possible that the intention behind these efforts may have been only to revive an institution.
The order also stated the state government may conduct an inquiry to ascertain how the institution fell into disuse and the persons who were responsible for it.
“We have been told that till now a grant of more than Rs 2 crore has been given to the Club from plan and non-plan expenditure. What use was made of these grants should also be explained,” the Court said.
“Considering the history of this Flying Club, which has produced many pilots, it would be in the best interest of Assam and Guwahati and the entire North East that it has a functional and running flying club which would cater to the needs of the entire region. The Assam Flying Club had a glorious past and trust that its future becomes even more glorious than its past,” the Court opined.
Senior standing counsel Devajit Saikia, who appeared on behalf of the state government, termed the judgment a landmark one while stating that the judgement, apart from paving the way for the revival of the Assam Flying Club, would stop certain vested interests from usurping public money.