New Delhi [India]: The Delhi High Court on Tuesday appointed a Committee of Administrators (CoA) for the Indian Olympic Association (IOA). The CoA will prepare and adopt the constitution of IOA within 16 weeks.
The 3-member CoA will function under Justice Anil R. Dave and will have former Chief Election Commissioner SY Qureshi and Vikas Swarup, former Secretary, Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India.
The CoA will have Olympic medallist Abhinav Bindra, Anju Bobby George and Bombayla Devi as Consultant Sportspersons.
The Delhi High Court passed this including others while allowing a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) by Senior advocate Rahul Mehra in 2010.
The Division Bench of Justice Najmi Waziri and Justice Manmohan directed that CoA shall assist in the preparation and adoption of the Constitution of IOA as per the sports Code and Court rulings.
The bench directed that the CoA shall prepare the Electoral Roll/Electoral College for the purpose of conducting the elections to the Executive Committee (EC) in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution, as may be proposed.
It shall carry out the day-to-day governance of IOA.
The High Court also directed that in discharging its task, the CoA would be at liberty to take the assistance of the erstwhile EC of IOA which has continued so far in order to facilitate decisions being taken apropos the holding of tournaments, selection of players and all other matters necessary for the proper administration and management of IOA.
The Court said that the EC of IOA shall hand over the charge to the CoA.
The bench clarified that CoA would be at liberty to make all appropriate arrangements for the governance of IOA until the fresh elections are held in terms of a constitution conforming to the Sports Code and as noted herein.
The Court also said that the CoA shall facilitate the holding of elections and handing over the affairs to a democratically elected body in terms of its constitution which will be adopted, preferably within a period of 16 weeks from the date the CoA members give their assent.
The bench observed in the order, “The history of persistent recalcitrance of the IOA for almost half a century to comply with the Sports Code, despite its consistent assurance to the Government, the societal concerns and the larger public good, make it imperative that the IOA’s affairs be put in the hands of a Committee of Administrators (CoA), similar to what has been directed by the Supreme Court on May 18, 2022, in the case of another NSF in All India Football Federation Vs. Rahul Mehra and others.
The bench said that all NSFs complying with the Sports Code and representing Olympic sports will automatically qualify for IOA membership subject to completion of formalities.
Accordingly, the application of the Indian Golf Union shall be so considered by the IOA within 4 weeks, for full voting rights and it shall be a part of the electoral college.
Justice Najmi Waziri, at last, said, “The logical corollary to the proceeding discussion would be that IOA would disqualify itself from retention of its recognition as a sports federation because of non-compliance with the Sports Code and the law of the land.
However, for the duration that the CoA assists in bringing IOA’s affairs in order, IOA’s recognition will not be disturbed. If the compliance is not done by IOA, within the time specified here-in-above, its recognition by the Government shall stand suspended.
The urgency for cooperation with the CoA and the onus for compliance with the sports code is upon the IOA.
Justice Manmohan observed, “It is high time that structural reforms are implemented to remove the mismanagement in the sports bodies and to democratise these institutions. The Central and State government may well consider passing a comprehensive legislation with regard to recognising and managing sports bodies incorporating the best practice and the IOC Charter without which no facility (monetary or otherwise) should be granted by any Stated and Union of India.’
“This court clarifies that the intent of the judgement is to improve the ‘eco system’ and bring about the structural reforms and is not directed against a particular individual or sports federation.
The bench has also directed that there would be 25 per cent participation of eminent sportspersons in the Annual General Assembly and Executive Committee.
The Court also fixed the age and tenure criteria which would be all posts of office bearer in the sports body.
Besides, for recognition and financial and other support every sports body shall comply with the sports code.
Only those sports which are represented at Olympics shall have the voting right in the electoral college.
The Court also said that the person will criminal background will not be in the sports body.
Besides, the state sports body will not have the voting right in the election of IOA.
Justice Waziri said, “The legal regime apropos sports administration in India has to be implemented fully and effectively. Compliance with the Sports Code is non-negotiable. If a sports federation does not comply with the law of the land, it will receive no recognition from the government. All benefits and facilities to it will stop promptly. It is better that a legitimate body represents the cause of sportspersons than one simply masquerading as the real champion of Indian sports. Fairness and legitimacy need to imbue all public affairs. Recalcitrant entities which defy adherence to the rules of the game, while continuing to unjustly enjoy the government’s largesses and patronage, must be called out.”
Justice Manmohan noted, “What the present writ petition highlights is that electoral colleges of most of the sports bodies are controlled by a few individuals where genuine sportsmen find it difficult to get elected and play an important role in the management.”
“Most of sports bodies are split down the middle. Even the Electoral College/list of authorised representatives to attend and vote at the General Body meeting of the IOA is seriously disputed.”
“This Court is surprised that the IOA Constitution in vogue stipulates that the President of IOA can be for life. Seeing the present Constitution, one is reminded of the mausoleum of the first Emperor of China Qin Shi Huang, where terracota soldiers were buried with the purpose of protecting the Emperor in his afterlife,” Justice Manmohan observed.