‘Reminded of first Chinese Emperor’s mausoleum’: HC seeks law for sports bodies

Updated on Aug 16, 2022 09:38 PM IST

The Delhi high court ordered the Centre to not grant recognition or any facility to IOA or any sports federation if they don’t comply with the National Sports Code 2011

The high court order came on a day FIFA suspended AIFF for what was described as “undue influence from third parties”, saying the lifting of the suspension will be subject to repealing of the Committee of Administrators’ (CoA) mandate in full. (HT File Photo)
The high court order came on a day FIFA suspended AIFF for what was described as “undue influence from third parties”, saying the lifting of the suspension will be subject to repealing of the Committee of Administrators’ (CoA) mandate in full. (HT File Photo)

NEW DELHI: Placing the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) under a Committee of Administrators (CoA), the Delhi high court on Tuesday asked the central and state governments to consider passing comprehensive legislation for recognition and management of sports bodies incorporating the best practices while lamenting that “most of the sports’ bodies are split down the middle”.

Directing the union government to not grant recognition or any facility (monetary or otherwise) to the IOA or any other sports federations, if they refuse to comply with the National Sports Code 2011, a bench of justices Manmohan and Najmi Waziri said that “electoral colleges of most of the sports bodies are controlled by a few individuals where genuine sportsmen find it difficult to get elected and play an important role in management”.

“What the present writ petition highlights is that electoral colleges of most of the sports bodies are controlled by a few individuals where genuine sportsmen find it difficult to get elected and play an important role in management. Most of the sports bodies are split down the middle. Even the electoral college/ list of authorised representatives to attend and vote at the General Body meeting of the IOA is seriously disputed,” justice Manmohan said in his part of the judgment.

The court noted that those who mismanage the sports bodies and those who have converted the sports bodies into their personal fiefdoms, dare the government / authorities and courts that if they try to democratise the sports association and remove the mismanagement, the country would suffer de-recognition and the Indian sportsmen would not be able to participate under the country’s flag in the immediate future.

The judge noted that several respondents (office bearers of the IOA) have acted as having tried their best to brand the “problem solver” (i.e. the court/government) as the “problem”.

“It is high time that structural reforms are implemented to remove the mismanagement in the sports bodies and to democratise these institutions. The central and state governments may well consider passing a comprehensive legislation with regard to the recognition and management of sports bodies incorporating the best practices and the Indian Olympic Charter (IOC) without which no facility (monetary or otherwise) should be granted by any state and union of India,” justice Manmohan said.

The judgment comes on a plea by senior advocate and sports enthusiast Rahul Mehra who sought strict compliance by the IOA and the National Sports Federations (NSFs) with the Sports Code and judicial dicta regarding it. The plea had sought recognition of defaulting NSFs be suspended or withdrawn, and that the benefits given to such non-compliant NSFs be not resumed till the constitution and administration of the IOA or NSF are brought into conformity with the Sports Code.

Expressing extreme displeasure on the functioning of the IOA as well as the non-implementation of the National Sports Code (NSC) by the National Sports Federations, the court said it is surprised that the sports body’s constitution in vogue stipulates that the President of IOA can be for life.

“Seeing the present constitution, one is reminded of the mausoleum of the first Emperor of China Qin Shi Huang, where terracotta soldiers were buried with the purpose of protecting the Emperor in his afterlife! Despite the lapse of a few decades, a preliminary and a small step taken by the Union of India in the form of Circulars/Sports Code have not been accepted by all the sports bodies till date,” Justice Manmohan said.

The judge noted that even individuals who agreed to abide by the suggestions of the Union of India & International Olympic Committee (IOC) in the minutes of the meeting executed between the IOC, Union of India and IOA on June 18, 2010 voted against their compliance in the General Body of IOA as noted by Union of India in its letter dated 23rd February, 2011.

“This is baffling as nearly the entire money and infrastructural support is provided by the central and state governments,” the court said, saying that no facility (monetary or otherwise) should be granted by any state and Union of India to those who are non-compliant.

It said that Sports Code must be made applicable to every constituent of every NSF, including IOA as well as its constituents.

Justice Waziri, in the part of the judgment said that the government’s repeated directions and exhortations to the NSFs and the IOA have remained just that, mere exhortations.

“Even after lapse of more than 12 years from the letter of May 2010 and 47 years from the 1975 Circular, the same irregularities and anomalies in the governance structure and management of national sports bodies continue to fester. There is blatant violation and disregard of the Sports Code, the IOC Charter and court orders. Why was this allowed to continue is another matter? The logical remedy to the situation would have been to de-recognise the defaulting entities,” the judge said, even though it noted that corrective measures were adopted sparingly.

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Reports from the Delhi High Court and stories on legal developments in the city. Avid mountain lover, cooking and playing with birds 🐦 when not at work

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