On Tuesday, the Delhi High Court ordered the formation of a three-member Committee of Administrators (COA) to manage the Indian Olympic Association’s business (IOA). The IOA’s “persistent recalcitrance” to follow the Sports Code, according to a bench of Justices Manmohan and Najmi Waziri, made it essential that its affairs be given to the COA, which is made up of former Supreme Court justice Justice Anil R. Dave, former Chief Election Commissioner Dr. S.Y. Quraishi, and former Secretary of Ministry of External Affairs Vikas Swarup.
The court ordered the IOA executive committee to immediately transfer authority to the newly formed committee and stated that three illustrious athletes—archer Olympian Bombayla Devi Laishram, long jump Olympian Anju Bobby George, and shooter Olympian Abhinav Bindra—will assist the CoA members.
The International Olympic Committee recognises the IOA as the National Olympic Committee for India.
The post of “Life President” and any other similar permanent position for a person in the IOA were declared invalid by the court, which also ruled that the maximum term for the President and similarly for all other office bearers and members of the EC was two years.
It said that both male and female athletes should be represented on the general and executive committees of the sports organisation.
“There are many reasons to honour the tremendous contribution that women make to the sporting world. Sports management is not just for men. In all of the IOA’s 95 years of existence, a woman has never served as either the organization’s president or secretary general. There is no doubt that women seek to hold important roles in the decision-making process. Their participation in the IOA’s GB (general body) and EC (executive committee) will help their legitimate ambitions come true. Women will therefore make up 50% of the category of athletes with voting rights in the General Body.
The court’s decision was reached after senior attorney Rahul Mehra filed a petition asking that the IOA and the National Sports Federations must abide by the Sports Code and judicial dicta.
“It is imperative that the IOA’s affairs be put in the hands of a Committee of Administrators (CoA) given the history of the IOA’s persistent refusal to comply with the Sports Code for almost 50 years, despite its repeated assurances to the Government, societal concerns, and the greater public good,” it stated.
Consequently, the court ordered that “persons of prominence from the domains of law, public administration, elections, and international relations are appointed as members of the CoA, to be accompanied by eminent sportspersons, as Consultants.”
It further called for the adoption of “structural reforms” to eliminate the mismanagement in the sports bodies and to democratise these institutions. It urged the centre to not offer recognition or facilities to any sports bodies that do not adhere to the sports code.
This Court holds that the Sports Code must be made applicable to each and every NSF’s constituent, including IOA and its constituents. As a result, respondent No. 1 Union of India is instructed not to offer the IOA recognition or any other type of assistance (financial or otherwise).
The court stated, “No facility (monetary or otherwise) should be granted by any State and Union of India without the Central and State Governments considering passing a comprehensive legislation with regard to recognition and management of sports bodies incorporating the best practises and the IOC Charter.”
The court noted in the current petition that the “IOA Constitution in vogue stipulates that President of IOA can be for life” and that “the 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.”
According to the court, government oversight of compliance is intended to be immediate, thorough, and careful at all times. The government would not recognise any sports federations or IOA that do not comply with the law.
“If IOA doesn’t comply within the time frame outlined above, the Government will cease its recognition of IOA. The IOA is responsible for adhering to the Sports Code and must cooperate urgently with the CoA “It read.
It was made clear that the COA will aid in the creation and adoption of the IOA constitution in accordance with the Sports Code and court decisions, as well as make it easier to organise elections and transfer power.
The court stated that for the time being, as an interim honorarium, a deposit of Rs 3 lakh per month shall be made with each CoA member and Rs 1.5 lakh each with the consultant sportsperson. The honorarium payable to the CoA members and facilities to be extended to them will be similar to what may be fixed by the Supreme Court in the case related to the All India Football Federation.