Hockey battle resumes as IHF gets court lifeline | india | Hindustan Times
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Hockey battle resumes as IHF gets court lifeline

The Sports Ministry and Indian Olympic Association suffered a major embarrassment on Friday when the Delhi High Court quashed their 2008 order dissolving the Indian Hockey Federation headed by KPS Gill.

india Updated: May 21, 2010 23:40 IST
Harish V Nair

The Sports Ministry and Indian Olympic Association (IOA) suffered a major embarrassment on Friday when the Delhi High Court quashed their 2008 order dissolving the Indian Hockey Federation headed by KPS Gill.

The order came on a petition filed by Gill immediately after the dissolution. The court ruled as both the IOA and Sports Ministry did not follow procedures set in their constitution while suspending and disaffiliating the IHF, their action was illegal. The IHF was disbanded after the Indian men failed to qualify for the 2008 Olympic Games, which was a first, and the sting operation that caught IHF secretary, K Jothikumaran, allegedly accepting bribe to select a player.

“Even if the action of placing IHF under suspension at that point in time can be stated to be a knee-jerk reaction to the above events, clearly such suspension was only intended as an interim measure. But it did not obviate the need to issue a show-cause notice to the IHF even after placing it under suspension,” Justice S Muralidhar said. The court said since the body was dissolved even without serving a show-cause notice, “there can be no manner of doubt that the suspension of the IHF by the IOA by the order dated 28th April 2008 was, in the circumstances, illegal”.

Warning the Centre that it was high time to set things in order, the court said sports bodies needed to have a degree of autonomy and the government could only play the role of a regulator. “The knee-jerk reaction to losses at international events, which are inevitable in competitive events, and looking for persons to blame, cannot be conducive to healthy development of any national sport. For a proper enquiry into the problems besetting Indian hockey, the cloud of suspension over the IHF should be lifted. The past should be put behind and a new beginning made,” the court said.

Rejecting the IOA's argument that revival of the IHF would lead to a “chaotic” situation with the Commonwealth Games round the corner, the court said it believed it was not too late for the Ministry to “get its act together” and set things in order with the cooperation of the IHF and IOA.

The court directed the Centre that instead of panicking about the revival of IHF, it needed to see how the interests of hockey in India could be best served. The court also imposed a cost of Rs 10,000 each on the Sports Ministry and IOA.

In his order, Justice Muralidhar said the court wanted to pass the order earlier but the IOA and Ministry had scuttled it every time, including just before the “Hockey World Cup 2010 saying a major international event is round the corner and therefore, this court should refrain from passing orders till such time the event was not concluded”.