The catering department of a club in Mumbai must take licence to run it, even if it does not make profit and the entry is only to its members, the Supreme Court stated last week in the judgment of Brihanmumbai Mahanagarpalika vs Willingdon Sports Club. The Bombay High Court had earlier struck down the demand notices sent to the club, holding that it was not an 'eating house' open to public.
However, the Supreme Court overruled it, observing that the definition of eating house should be given a wider meaning. Though sport is the main activity of the club, supply of food is an integral part of such activity. The judgment explained: "Many join the club in the name of availing sporting facilities only for the purpose of spending their time in leisure and for enjoying the facilities provided by the catering department." Even though profit is not the motto of the club, it certainly gained by the catering facilities, the court added.