The Delhi High Court has indicted the Central Government for permitting “complete autonomy and arbitrariness in the functioning of National Sports Federations”.
Justice Gita Mittal held the Sports Ministry responsible for ignoring representation of players and coaches in sports bodies and failing to restore the national interest and glory of sports.
The critical comments by Justice Mittal were delivered while she disposed of a petition challenging the appointment of former Punjab Police chief KPS Gill as the president of Indian Hockey Federation (IHF).
The Sports Ministry has already removed Gill.
The judgment making application of Ministry guidelines binding would have direct implications for other sports bodies including the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) as it makes clear that the government can withdraw financial assistance if an office-bearer continues for more than two consecutive terms.
“It takes the finest nuances of the game, the psychology involved in mentally blocking out rowdy spectators supporting a home team, the Herculean efforts entailed in focussing on the game against extreme provocations of the opponents,” said Justice Mittal.
She directed the government to examine all complaints made by petitioner Narinder Batra with regard to breach of the guidelines as well as the terms for grant of financial and other assistance.
Citing the importance of having adequate representation of sportsmen in various bodies, Justice Mittal stated: “Only someone who has played or been involved in the game can understand why some days are good, others not at all. The essentiality of a good diet and rest regimen, a clean environment and adequate facilities can be also best ensured by those who have been involved.”
Upholding the Central Government's right to exercise “complete legislative powers to frame laws on the subject of sports when the latter is to be regulated at the national and international level,” Justice Mittal opined “the success of a game is to be evaluated not by medals won but by its awareness in the country, availability modern facilities in the remote corners, creation of a body of fit and able coaches and players.”
In his petition, Batra had challenged Gill's continuation as IHF president and claimed it was in violation of government guidelines that restrict tenure of an office-bearer of any sports federation.
According to the guidelines the office-bearer cannot continue for more than two consecutive terms of four years each.
She didn't mince words in holding that hockey had lost its popularity, as there was no acknowledgement or the talent of players who toil on the sports fields. Justice Mittal held the IHF responsible of the game's downfall.
Justice Mittal added a sport was no more something that could be dealt with in a meeting over a five-star meal.
It required technical knowledge of the game, equipment and training.