CHENNAI: INDIAN sport seems to be heading towards uncharted territory. Hours after the international football federation (FIFA) suspended the All India Football Federation (AIFF) due to "third-party intervention", the Delhi High Court, as expected, appointed a Committee of Administrators (CoA) in Indian Olympic Association (IOA) to amend the constitution and hold elections within 16 weeks.
The sports code is not restricted to just NSFs anymore but "must be made applicable to the IOA and to every constituent NSFs and to every State and District Level Association".
Sweeping reforms have been suggested to clean up sports. The Delhi High Court division bench of judges Manmohan and Najmi Waziri directed the IOA election be held in 16 weeks' time under the new constitution. The order was in response to senior advocate Rahul Mehra's petition that said IOA is violating 2011 National Sports Development Code of India. He had listed 13 points and the court has addressed them point-wise.
Interestingly, like in AIFF, two administrators are the same: retired SC judge, Anil Dave, and SY Quraishi. Vikas Swarup, former secretary, the external affairs ministry, would be the third member in IOA. Apart from them, three sportspersons — Beijing Olympic gold medallist Abhinav Bindra, 2003 athletics world championships medallist Anju Bobby George, and archery world cup medallist, L Bombayla Devi — have been appointed as consultants to assist them in amending the constitution.
All eyes will now be on the International Olympic Committee (IOC). They had already sent a letter last month dated July 20, wherein they warned that if quadrennial elections are not held in the recent weeks under the old constitution, IOC will "...have no other option but to consider appropriate protective measures vis-a-vis IOA, including suspension..." On Monday, the IOC told this newspaper that "IOC’s position has not changed since its letter of 20th July". It needs to be seen how they react.
There are quite a few directives that would have a broader implication. The court has said that only Olympic sport NSFs will have voting rights in the IOA constitutions and not the State Olympic Associations that had been the norm. It will be a setback for them.
"Of the 56 NSFs recognized by the government, only 29 NSFs represent Olympic sports. The remaining 27 NSFs are for non-Olympic sports," it said. "Perpetuation of control or hegemony of a group over a Society/Association or entity is ex facie undemocratic. All the more, in cases where the entity discharges public functions. For the reasons discussed hereinabove, there should be no SOAs. However, should the IOA insist on having them, the SOAs shall have no votes in the IOA nor will their members be elected to the IOA EC or discharge any position of authority or control..."
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The court agreed with the petitioner that age and tenure limits should be applied to all members of the EC of the IOA and not only to the president, secretary and treasurer as well as to everyone in the General Assembly. According to the sports code, office bearers — president, secretary and treasurer — have a cumulative 12 years term with a mandatory cooling-off period.
The number of executive council members too have been brought down. As of now, the IOA has more than 30 EC members. The court has brought that down to 15: seven office bearers and eight EC members. The court said that general body as also Executive Council must have a minimum 25 per cent of the representation of eminent sports persons with voting rights.
The court also said that "persons seeking re-election for the same post must secure two-thirds majority".
The court has directed that "the erstwhile Executive Committee of IOA shall forthwith hand over the charge to the CoA" who would carry out the day-to-day governance of the IOA. The CoA will have 16 weeks within which the constitution would be amended and elections be held accordingly.
Mehra said that after years of perseverance, it was heartening to see such a sweeping reform in sports. "This will eventually help the sport and the sports persons to grow," he said. "If these reforms kick in now, in the next decade or two we will India among the top performers at Olympics. This will end corruption and nepotism in sports and bring in accountability and transparency."
Almost all reforms are in line with the Sports Code and to an extent even the Olympic Charter.