With the suspended Indian Olympic Association (IOA) blatantly trying to put up a semblance of normality by convening meetings despite warnings from the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and sports ministry of more stringent action, a crucial petition will come up in the Delhi High Court on Monday, which seeks an ad-hoc body to run the IOA affairs.The petition, filed by lawyer Rahul Mehra, would seek directions from the High Court to the ministry to form a 15-member ad-hoc panel of eminent persons from diverse walks of life to run the IOA affairs for three to six months, with the aim of building a platform for holding transparent and fair elections to the National Olympic Committee (NOC).
Through the petition the lawyer also seeks to know whether the ministry has also withdrawn recognition to the IOA, as Clause 1 & 2 (Annexure 3) of the ministry's Sports Code state that if any international federation derecognises the national sports federation, then the ministry too has to follow suit.
The IOA had held its elections after directions from the High Court in December last, but the IOC saw serious anomalies and suspended the NOC. It's not known whether the ministry too derecognised the IOA as per clauses in its Sports Code.
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Mehra told HT on Sunday that, "Since the world body has suspended the IOA, therefore the body is not legitimate and the three major consequences of derecognition should be enforced by the ministry. The consequences are: 1. The financial aid given by the ministry to the federations should be withdrawn, 2. All infrastructure, facilities and stadia should be made out of bounds and most importantly 3. Federations should not be allowed to use the name 'India' or select India teams for participation in international events."
The petition says that in the current context it is important that those people with vested interests, both present and former IOA office-bearers, should not be allowed to govern the NOC. The contention is that if the office-bearers do anything in the interim, they will hijack the reforms process.
"Therefore, it is important we have a completely detached (ad-hoc) body, which has no stakes in the running of sports in India, but has the highest possible integrity, and who have helped build the nation in their own fields," said Mehra.
It may be recalled that in mid-2010, the IOA had given an undertaking to the IOC that it would voluntarily amend its constitution and incorporate best international practices of transparency and governance after the ministry officials met IOC top bosses in Lausanne and apprised them of the situation. The IOA even sent an amended draft constitution to the IOC a month later for approval. The draft was hailed by all as very progressive.
But, during the IOA’s AGM at Ranchi in 2011, the draft constitution was hijacked by the then office-bearers and a retrogressive constitution was passed.
Mehra’s contention is if the same people, like Lalit Bhanot among others, continue to function, then the amended constitution will never come into effect.
“In order to keep the nation's and athletes' interest, I suggested a mechanism to allow an ad-hoc interim body (of players, eminent people from all walks of life) to be constituted for a limited period to put things in place.”
He also wants to know through the petition whether the IOA elections were held as per the Sports Code and whether All India Tennis Association (AITA) president, Anil Khanna, violated the tenure guidelines. “After 12 years as AITA secretary, Khanna became president without the mandatory cooling-off period.”