CHENNAI: Well, this might raise a few eyebrows. The sports ministry, in its latest affidavit to the Delhi High Court, has decided to renew recognition of the Equestrian Federation of India, Federation of Motor Sports Clubs of India, Indian Polo Association, Yachting Association of India and Special Olympic Bharat for a year. They are among seven national federations that have been granted recognition for a year. National Yogasana Sports Federation and All India Tennis Association being the other two.
What seems intriguing are the words used by the sports ministry in its affidavit to grant recognition to five federations (equestrian, polo, motorsports, yachting and Special Olympics). The submission made to the Delhi High Court, apart from its decision to renew recognition for a year, says, “During the one (year) period, these NSFs will be required to bring their constitutions and governance structure in line with the Sports Code.” In other words, the said federations have not adhered to the Sports Code when it comes to their constitutions and governance.
Coming back to the five federations that have been given one year to adhere to the Sports Code. The polo and motorsports federations are not overtly worried as changes have been made to their constitutions to bring them in line with the Sports Code, especially with regards to membership and voting rights of members.
When it comes to equestrian, there seems to be an issue. The state units have been demanding parity in the EFI and even approached the court. Not just that the sports ministry and the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) did not send observers to the elections held in September last year, the ministry also wanted the federation to adhere to the Sports Code. But in May when the sports ministry sent a list of 54 federations whose recognition was renewed, EFI was on it. Earlier, the ministry had given all time until August 8, 2019 to fall in line with the Sports Code. The federation has been requesting the ministry to consider it as a "peculiar club-based sport".
Yachting association has brought in a few changes in their constitution since 2015, including election every three years as per West Bengal Societies Registration Act. However, it is understood that they are stuck in the club-based structure and fewer state units due to lack of water bodies. Apparently, this has been conveyed to the ministry. It is understood that the constitution was vetted by the sports ministry with major changes and amendments in 2015.
Interestingly, recently one such federation that failed to adhere to Sports Code in terms of constitution and governance – Rowing Federation of India – was derecognised within a month of holding elections and was reinstated after specified modifications.
The total number of NSFs getting recognition has increased to 48 with this. The submission is in response to a case filed by sports lawyer Rahul Mehra. Out of the 48, as informed to court, 14 NSFs need to conduct their elections by December 31 to get one-year extension.
It needs to be seen what these four sports organisations do. This recognition must have come as a big reprieve for some. However, this gesture of the sports ministry – granting recognition to those who don’t adhere to Sports Code — will set a bad precedent. How will the ministry control errant federations?