Two months after it reinstated the Indian Hockey Federation (IHF) headed by KPS Gill, the Delhi High Court on Tuesday warned the government against continuing to associate itself with the election of Hockey India (HI), calling it a mere "private body".
Justice S. Muralidhar reiterated that the IHF was the only recognised body for the sport in the country. The court's stinging stricture comes ahead of HI election scheduled for Wednesday to elect its office-bearers. HI was under pressure to hold polls as the international hockey federation (FIH) had threatened that India would be debarred from playing in the Women's World Cup in August if an elected federation was not in place by July 31.
The court had on May 21 ruled that both the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) and the Sports Ministry did not follow procedures set in their constitution while suspending and disaffiliating the IHF and, therefore, their action was illegal.
Justice Murlidhar said that Wednesday's election would be allowed only when the confusion regarding its status is cleared.
"The election of July 28 can only take place when the clarification is made by the government and the HI," the court said, adding, "If they don't issue a clarification, the election cannot be held." The judge also asked the government to withdraw its observer appointed to monitor the HI elections.
The court slammed the ministry for not taking proper steps for removing confusion regarding the status of HI after its judgement. "It seems the government allowed holding of elections but why is the government supporting Hockey India. It would create further confusion," said the judge.
"If the government has not recognised you (HI), then why is it allowing you to conduct elections? The government should not be involved in the election of a private body," the court said.
Tuesday's order from the High Court came after the IHF challenged the ministry's letter dated July 2, 2010 granting no objection to HI to hold elections.
HI TO GO AHEAD WITHOUT OBSERVER
Hockey India is going ahead with election to choose its first managing committee despite the adverse order from Delhi High Court recognizing IHF as the official body for the sport in the country and the government withdrawing its election observer.
The Sports Ministry on Tuesday withdrew its observer – SK Mendiratta, for Wednesday’s election and said it will be working with IOA and IHF towards having one recognised body for the sport in the country.
Though not admitting directly that it can’t de-recognise Hockey India because it is affiliated to FIH, the Sports Ministry said it recognises IHF as well going by the Delhi High Court order of May 21, 2010.
“The Government Election Observer’s presence at the Annual General Meeting of HI, which is scheduled to be held tomorrow, does not in any manner reflect Government’s endorsement of the election process or its outcome. However, in deference to Hon’ble Court’s directives, the Government has decided not to depute the Government Election Observer to oversee the elections of HI on 28 .07.2010,” Joint Secretary (Sports), Injeti Srinivas, said in a statement.
Tripura cannot vote
The Gauhati High Court has barred both Hockey Tripura and Tripura Hockey from participating in the election process after the two bodies failed to settle their dispute over, which is the official body of the state.
According to Hockey India’s voters list Tripura Hockey’s Rupak Deb Roy and Mahuya Kar were the official representatives for the elections.