The strained ties between the Sports Ministry and Hockey India (HI) have reached the brink with the Ministry moving closer to withdrawing the conditional recognition given to the ad hoc body last year.
The Ministry wants an ad hoc body to take over from HI and put things in order. “In the present circumstances, the government is no more in a position to deal with Hockey India as a national sports federation,” the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports told the Delhi High Court in an affidavit filed on Wednesday.
In its affidavit filed in the court hearing a plea by Rahul Mehra for probe into the functioning of sports bodies including HI, the ministry accused the hockey body of not complying with its directions, flouting rules and making a mess of things.
Making it clear that it envisages a body with more credibility to run hockey affairs, the affidavit filed by N Kukreja, Under Secretary at the ministry says, “unlike on the previous occasion, the ad hoc body should comprise of eminent sports administrators, eminent hockey players who are committed to the task”.
Referring to a series of controversies and mudslinging in recent times, the affidavit pointed to “ increasing number of litigation against Hockey India from state units”, completely derailing the affiliation process in states like Maharashtra, Kerala, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Chhattisgarh and Uttrakhand.
The Sports Ministry said one of the conditions for giving “provisional recognition” to HI was that it would ensure a free, fair and transparent election process and set up a dispute resolution and grievance hearing mechanism in connection with the grant of affiliation to state units.
“But their performance has left much to be desired”, the affidavit said.
The Ministry again raised the issue of returning officer and said it had directed HI to appoint someone who is independent of HI and Indian Olympic Association (IOA) and preferably a retired judge. But it appointed G.S. Mander, president of Wrestling Federation of India, also an IOA vice-president as the returning officer.
“This violated the principle of independent returning officer because Mander is an office-bearer of IOA which has set up the HI,” the affidavit said.
The ministry also noted that the original governing body of the HI, which had seven members, had become “headless” following the resignation of AK Mattoo as its president and Mohd Aslam as secretary-general.
The affidavit noted that stay on HI affiliation process by the High Courts of Rajasthan and Tamil Nadu has also added to the uncertainty over elections.
HI interim secretary-general Narinder Batra said he would not react as the matter is sub-judice. “We will respond to the ministry in the court,” he said.