The sports ministry on Wednesday strongly reacted to the International Olympic Committee's objections to the Indian government fixing tenure of office-bearers of the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) and National Sports Federations (NSF), and offered to depute a senior official to resolve the issue with the apex world sport body.
The ministry, in a strongly worded statement, accused IOA secretary general Randhir Singh of having a "conflict of interest on the issue in view of his 23-year-long continuous tenure as IOA secretary general and also an independent member from India on the IOC."
IOC's National Olympic Committee (NOC) relations director Pere Miro, in a letter to Randhir Singh, hinted that the world body will not hesitate to impose sanctions on its Indian affiliate if there is too much government interference in the functioning of the federations which, under the Olympic Charter, need to be autonomous.
Randhir, along with IOA president Suresh Kalamdi and other top politicians, met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Wednesday and handed over a copy of the letter.
The sports ministry said "it is noting with regret that they were not consulted before the IOC was approached."
"The IOC, too, did not seek any inputs from the government before its NOC Relations director sent the letter to Randhir Singh, who in turn has sent it to the government in his dual capacity," the ministry said.
"The government has noted the contents of the letter from the IOC's NOC Relations director. The government is immediately sending to the highest authorities in the IOC a detailed response on the matter."
"The government is also proposing to the IOC that in order to have a thorough and conclusive discussion on the subject, the government would be deputing a senior official to the IOC headquarters at a mutually convenient date to sort out the matter across the table."
The ministry also said it has taken careful note of various views expressed in media, on the order passed by it restoring the tenure regulation of 1975 which had been blocked by an internal order of 2001.
"The order came under serious criticism from the Hon'ble Delhi High Court in a civil writ petition disposed of in 2009. The court categorically stated that the tenure regulations were valid, binding and enforceable, and could not be blocked by executive instructions. The court also ruled that these regulations were not in violation of the Olympic Charter."
"The present situation in NSFs/IOA with persons in continuous office from 12 to over 30 years, has also engaged the attention of parliament. In a Rajya Sabha debate on April 22, Hon’ble members of parliament from all political parties urged the government to restore the tenure regulation of 1975."
"In its current order, the government has prescribed that the tenure limit will apply prospectively to future elections. In most cases the elections to NSFs would become due after 2011."