The Hockey India (HI) elections have been deferred once again ---this time indefinitely following a stay order issued by the Jaipur bench of the Rajasthan High Court.
Justice RS Chauhan had on Friday stayed the operation of the minutes of HI meeting of January 11, 2010 in which affiliation was given to 30 state units and four institutions and boards.
The Rajasthan Hockey Association (RHA), which was recognised by the now-suspended Indian Hockey Federation and has been in existence for around 60 years, was denied affiliation. Instead, a new ad-hoc body called Hockey Rajasthan was recognised. RHA went to court challenging HI's decision and got the stay.
The HI board met in New Delhi on Saturday and decided to defer the elections for an indefinite period, following the advice of the returning officer GS Mander.
"Board members of Hockey India held an urgent meeting and have unanimously decided to defer the elections till a final decision is taken by the Rajasthan HC," HI secretary general, Narinder Batra said in a release on Saturday.
HI, along with the Sports Ministry, the Rajasthan government and its Sports Council, the Indian Olympic Association, IOA president Suresh Kalmadi, Rajasthan Olympic Association and Hockey Rajasthan have been asked to submit their replies to the notice within four weeks.
This means, the elections cannot be held until after the World Cup in New Delhi, starting on February 28, unless the stay is lifted. Mander, on receiving the legal notice, concluded that elections cannot be held on February 7 because the entire Electoral College has been stayed, the HI release said.
HI claimed that it has kept the international hockey federation (FIH), the Sports Ministry, election observer of the government and IOA observer updated with the development.
However, government observer, SK Mendiratta, said he came to know about the decision from the media and would comment on the situation only after ascertaining the scope of the HC order.
This is the third time that the elections have been postponed.
They were first set to be held on November 18, 2009 but were postponed to January 29, 2010 as the affiliation process was not complete. The polls were deferred again, on January 8, as HI was not able to issue the 21-day notice for the elections. HI, on January 12, decided to hold the elections on February 7, barely three weeks before the World Cup.