Delhi HC appoints committee to take over Indian Olympic Association business

The Delhi High Court on Tuesday ordered the establishment of a three-member Committee of Trustees (COA) to take over the affairs of the Indian Olympic Association (IOA).

A bench of Justices Manmohan and Najmi Waziri said the IOA’s continued reluctance to comply with the Sports Code made it imperative that its cases be assigned to the COA, which is made up of former Supreme Court justice Justice Anil R Dave, former Chief Electoral Commissioner. Dr SY Quraishi and former Secretary of the Ministry of External Affairs Vikas Swarup.

The court ordered the IOA Executive Committee to immediately hand over the charge to the newly appointed committee and declared that the CoA members will be assisted by three eminent sportsmen, namely, Shooting Olympian Abhinav Bindra, Olympian long jumper Anju Bobby George and Archer Olympian Bombayla Devi Laishram.

The IOA is recognized by the International Olympic Committee as the National Olympic Committee for India.

The tribunal, which considered in detail the issues concerning the tenure of officers and voting rights, invalidated the office of President for life and any such permanent position for an individual within the IOA to be illegal and stated that the maximum term of office for the President and likewise for all officers and EC members shall be limited to 3 terms in accordance with the law.

He said sportsmen and women should be included in the general and executive committees of the sports body.

There is every reason to recognize the important presence of women in the world of sport. Sports administration is not the prerogative of men. It is common knowledge that in its 95 years of existence, the IOA has never had a woman as President or Secretary General. Women certainly aspire to occupy important positions in the decision-making process. Their presence both in the GB (general body) and in the EC (executive committee) of the AIO will allow their legitimate aspirations to materialize. As a result, women will make up half of the category of athletes entitled to vote in the General Assembly as well as in the EC, the court said.

The court order was passed following a motion by lead attorney Rahul Mehra asking for strict adherence by the IOA and national sports federations to the Sports Code and judicial dicta.

The history of the IOA’s persistent reluctance for nearly half a century to comply with the Sporting Code, despite its constant assurance to government, societal concerns and the broader public good, makes it imperative that the affairs of the IOA be entrusted to a Committee of Administrators (CoA), he said.

Accordingly, eminent personalities in the fields of law, public administration, elections and international relations are appointed as members of the CoA, assisted by eminent sportsmen, as consultants, the court ordered.

He ordered the center not to grant recognition or facilities to sports bodies that do not abide by the sports code and further called for the implementation of structural reforms to eliminate mismanagement in sports bodies and democratize these institutions.

This Court is of the opinion that the Sports Code must be made applicable to every constituent of every NSF, including the IOA and its constituents. monetary or otherwise) to the IOA or any NSF and/or any of its affiliated associations, if they refuse to comply with the Sports Code as ordered by this Court, he said.

Central and State Governments may well consider adopting comprehensive legislation regarding the recognition and management of sports bodies incorporating best practice and the IOC Charter without which no facilities (monetary or otherwise) should be granted by any State or a Union of India, the court said.

The court registered the present motion pointed out that the electoral colleges of most sporting bodies are controlled by a few individuals where true sportsmen find it difficult to get elected and play an important role in the management and constitution of the AIO in vogue stipulates that the president of IOA can be for life.

The court said that government compliance monitoring should be fast, robust and meticulous at all times and that a sports federation that does not follow the law of the land would receive no recognition from the government and the same goes for the IOA. .

In the absence of compliance by IOA, within the period specified above, its recognition by the Government is suspended. The urgency of cooperation with the CoA and the responsibility for compliance with the Sports Code rests with the IOA, he said.

He clarified that the COA shall assist in the preparation and adoption of the IOA constitution in accordance with the Sports Code and court rulings and facilitate the holding of elections and the handing over of the affairs of the body to a democratically elected body in terms of its constitution which will be adopted, preferably within 16 weeks from the date of approval by CoC members.

The fees payable to members of the CoA and the facilities granted to them will be akin to what may be fixed by the Supreme Court in the Football Federation of India case and for the time being, as interim fees, a deposit of Rs 3 lakh per month must be made with each member of the CoA and Rs 1.5 lakh each with the consultant sportsman, the court said.

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Andrew B. Reiter