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Indian Olympic Association elections: It’s getting murkier as D-day approaches

Narinder Batra is expected to be elected as Indian Olympic Association (IOA) president unopposed, as Anil Khanna, All India Tennis Association (AITA) honorary life president, has withdrawn his nomination.

other sports Updated: Dec 12, 2017 23:18 IST
Navneet Singh
Navneet Singh
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Indian Olympic Association,IOA,IOA elections
Sports activist Rahul Mehra, in his petition in the Delhi High Court, which will be heard on Wednesday, has stated that the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) is violating its constitution to accommodate Narinder Batra.(HT Photo)

The Indian Olympic Association (IOA) elections are set for a thrilling climax. Even as preparations are in full swing for the December 14 mandate, noted lawyer and sports activist Rahul Mehra has filed a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) in the Delhi High Court challenging the credentials of presidential candidate Narinder Batra --- the international hockey federation (FIH) chief --- to contest the elections.

Narinder Batra is expected to be elected unopposed, as Anil Khanna, All India Tennis Association (AITA) honorary life president, has withdrawn his nomination.

In his petition, which will be heard on Wednesday, Mehra has stated that the IOA is violating its constitution to accommodate Batra, who stepped down as Hockey India (HI) chief after he became the world hockey body head a year ago.

“Since Batra wasn’t a member of the previous executive council (of the IOA), he isn’t qualified to contest; it’s in violation of the National Sports Code,” he said.

Repeated attempts to contact Batra failed.

Batra was the IOA vice-president from 2012 to 2014, but wasn’t a member of the executive council. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) had declared the election null and void as the IOA hadn’t adhered to Olympic Charter, following which the national Olympic body was suspended.

Curiously, the returning officer for the IOA election, SK Mendiratta, has allowed the office bearers during the 2012-14 tenure to contest the elections.

Mehra has also contested that while the date for the election was announced on November 24, the eligibility criterion for the president and secretary-general was ‘interpreted’ on November 29.

Judo official in fray

The sports ministry had de-recognised the Judo Federation of India (JFI) in October, 2015 for violating the National Sports Code, but JFI president, Mukesh Kumar, who is also a former Sports Authority of India official, is among the three candidates for the post of treasurer.

Strangely, the JFI is among the 40 National Sports Federations (NSFs) in the electoral list which will vote on December 14. The ministry had de-recognised JFI because Kumar had violated the tenure clause. He was the secretary-general for 12 years (from 2001-2013) and became president in 2013 without a ‘cooling off’ period of four years.

Besides, there are two factions in the Gymnastics Federation of India, yet the IOA has given voting rights to only one body, even though the case lingers on in court.

By doing all this, the IOA is setting a wrong precedent, said a senior federation official on condition of anonymity. “There are also tainted sports officials from some states in the list of the electoral college,” he added.

In case of the Archery Association of India (AAI), the Supreme Court recently observed that its constitution should be amended and only then can it hold elections. Citing that AAI order, Mehra said, “The same apex court order should be applicable on IOA elections as well.”

Mehra also wants at least 25 per cent representation for sportspersons in the IOA.

First Published: Dec 12, 2017 23:18 IST