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Legal opinion sought on corrupt officials

delhi Updated: Apr 26, 2011 01:02 IST
Chetan Chauhan

With the arrest of Indian Olympic Association (IOA) president Suresh Kalmadi, the Sports Ministry will now seek the Law Ministry’s opinion on whether the government can remove tainted sports officials.

The ministry, on Monday, suggested that the IOA appoint an ‘alternate’ president but was not sure whether the association will pay heed to it, as national sporting associations have autonomy in appointment of office-bearers.

“To maintain the fair image of sports in India, the government would like the IOA to consider appointing an alternate president in place of the present incumbent for managing the affairs of the IOA,” the ministry said in a letter to IOA secretary general Randhir Singh.

The ministry said Kalmadi has been arrested on charges of forgery, cheating and theft and his continuation, as head of the premier sports body, will dent India’s international image.

Sports minister Ajay Maken added that for a person who is in jail or has been chargesheeted, it would not be in national interest for him to represent the country anymore.

Despite Maken’s suggestion to the IOA, the ministry believes that the national sports body will not heed it. There is no provision under which the ministry can direct national sports federations to sack an office-bearer, even on charges of corruption.

However, the ministry has proposed such a provision in the draft sports regulation, which is expected to be introduced in the monsoon session of Parliament. Maken said a consultation with national sports bodies would be held in Delhi on May 2 to firm up the proposed legislation.

As an alternative, Maken has decided to seek legal opinion from the Law Ministry on whether it can direct IOA to sack Kalmadi and others chargesheeted officials. The ministry is confident of getting a positive response, as courts have upheld the ministry’s guidelines to sports federations on fixing age and tenure limit on the ground that they represent the country in the international arena.

Kalmadi’s close aides — former Organising Committee secretary general Lalit Bhanot and former Commonwealth Games director general VK Verma — were arrested in February.

They are yet to be removed from their respective national sports bodies. “We would also be writing to the Attorney General, seeking his legal advice. The government can also take action on its own, if the IOA fails to take any action against him. If required, we will take action on our own,” Maken said.