Played no role in finance, procurement proposals: Elena Norman in Delhi HC affidavit | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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Played no role in finance, procurement proposals: Elena Norman in Delhi HC affidavit

Feb 29, 2024 10:59 AM IST

Outgoing Hockey India CEO Elena Norman on Tuesday said the work environment in HI was “difficult” and she had no choice but to call it quits

Days before resigning as Hockey India’s (HI) first chief executive officer (CEO), Elena Norman had filed an affidavit before the Delhi high court refuting allegations of inaction and impropriety leveled against her in the “Inquiry Report on Alleged Irregularities or Misconduct in Hockey India” (HI).

The then Hockey India CEO Elena Norman with former Indian men’s hockey team captain Sardar Singh in 2014. (PTI file photo)
The then Hockey India CEO Elena Norman with former Indian men’s hockey team captain Sardar Singh in 2014. (PTI file photo)

In the report, inquiry officer Injeti Srinivas, while rendering findings of financial irregularities against HI, had observed that Norman “looked the other way” and had also imputed to her responsibility of taking decisions regarding finance or procurement proposal and selection of internal auditors.

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Additionally, with a view to increase her accountability, Srinivas, in the report submitted to the high court in November last year, had recommended HI to review her contract and convert the same into a regular limited period contract instead of continuing her as a consultant. The inquiry officer also recommended HI to discontinue the practice of having the same person as CEO of HI and Hockey India League and also “suitably” revise CEO’s compensation.

Besides this, HI’s president Dilip Tirkey, in an email dated February 3 addressed to HI’s secretary Bhola Nath Singh and treasurer Sekar J Manoharan, had said that it was currently not appropriate for three staff members, including Norman, to sign HI’s Approval Notes and Purchase Orders, in light of the pendency of the case filed by former hockey player Aslam Sher Khan in the high court.

Following a 13-year stint, Norman, while resigning on Tuesday, had said that it had become too difficult for her to continue now.

“Of course, it’s disappointing and sad. But it has become too difficult (for me to continue) now. It is a good time to move on,” said the Australian.

In her affidavit dated February 9, Norman, while calling the allegations in the report as general, vague and omnibus, had said that she played no role in either finance or procurement proposals or selection of internal auditors.

She had contended that the report had failed to notice that all the financial and procurement decisions were taken by the Executive Board collectively on the specific advice of the Finance and Audit and the Tender Purchase Committee and that she was never a member of the Finance and Audit and the Tender Purchase Committee.

“In stating so, the Inquiry Report has failed to notice that all financial and procurement decisions were taken by the Executive Board collectively on the specific advice of the Finance & Audit and the Tender Purchase Committees. The Inquiry Report fails to notice that the CEO was never a member of the Finance & Audit Committee or the Tender Purchase Committee,” Norman had stated in the affidavit seen by HT.

“Furthermore, a bare perusal of the Minutes of Meetings which form a part of the Inquiry Report’s annexures would show that no role was played by the CEO in either (i) finance or procurement proposals; or (ii) selection of internal auditors. Hence, it is beyond any sense of reason or logic to even remotely impute any responsibility for these decisions to the deponent,” read the affidavit.

Norman had also stated that HI had not only withheld her salary since November 2023, despite her contract subsisting till December 2026, she for reasons unknown to her was being made to feel unwelcome and was forced to work in a hostile and uncharitable atmosphere.

“That the Deponent is dismayed that despite her long association of almost 13 years with Hockey India, for reasons unbeknownst to her, she is being made to feel unwelcome, is facing a situation where her pay has been withheld and is forced to presently work in a hostile and uncharitable atmosphere,” stated her affidavit.

Norman in the affidavit had urged the court to eschew the observations made in the report against her while contending that Srinivas had transgressed his mandate laid down by the high court in its May 2, 2023, order and had gone well beyond the irregularities adverted to in the Deloitte report.

On May 2, the high court after perusing HI’s audit report for the period of April 2017-May 2022 submitted by Deloittee, had appointed Srinivas as Inquiry Officer to inquire into the alleged irregularities/misconduct based on the audit report.

The court had not only asked Srinivas to suggest remedial measures, but also directed him to recommend initiation of civil and criminal proceedings by the competent authorities.

The affidavit was filed in a petition filed by former hockey player Aslam Sher Khan in 2020 challenging the lifetime appointment of president Narendra Dhruv Batra (now resigned) and Norman (now resigned) as ‘life member’ and chief executive officer (CEO) respectively which gave them unlimited tenure and voting rights in the executive committee.

To be sure, the high court in May 2022 had formed a committee of administrators till the amendment of its constitution to bring it in line with the National Sports Development Code, which was also upheld by the Supreme Court.

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