Court upholds government ruling on tenure, age for sports officials (Lead)November 2nd, 2010 - 10:07 pm ICT by IANS
New Delhi, Nov 2 (IANS) The chiefs of National Sports Federations (NSFs) received a jolt Tuesday with the Delhi High Court upholding the sports ministry’s guidelines restricting their tenure of office and fixing the upper age limit.
The court ruling makes it clear that all national sports bodies will have to follow a fixed tenure of maximum 12 years or three terms and an upper age limit of 70 years for their office-bearers. A bench headed by Chief Justice Deepak Misra directed the union government to go ahead and fix the tenure and age limits and turned down a plea by five federations for staying the government policy.
Sports Minister M.S. Gill hailed the court’s order and called it a “Deepavali gift” to the sportspersons of India.
“I am happy to hear the good news that the Hon’ble High Court has upheld the sports ministry order of May 1 and directed this be strictly enforced and followed. This is the Deepavali gift from the Hon’ble court to youth and sports persons of India on the eve of the Asian Gams,” Gill said in a statement.
The ruling will impact a number of politicians and top bureaucrats, who continue to remain at the helm of NSF for years.
The list includes V.K. Malhotra (president, Archery Association of India), Jagdish Tytler (president, Judo Federation of India), Yashwant Sinha (president, All India Tennis Association), Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa (Cycling Federation of India), Abhay Singh Chautala (Indian Amateur Boxing Federation), Digvijay Singh (president, National Rifle Association of India), Ashoke Ghosh (president, Kho Kho Federation of India), and K.P. Singh Deo (Rowing Federation of India.
In fact, Congress MP Suresh Kalmadi has been the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) president since 1996, while BJP leader Malhotra has been president of the Archery Association of India for more than three decades.
Akali Dal leader Dhindsa’s reign at the Cycling Federation of India is into its 14th year while Verma, a former bureaucrat and director general of Commonwealth Games Organising Committee, is president of Badminton Association of India for the past 12 years.
Congress leader Satish Sharma is chief of the Aero Club for 24 years, while B.S. Adityan, a business tycoon, has been at the helm of the Volleyball Federation of India for 12 years.
The regulation was first introduced in 1975 when the government capped the tenure of the president, secretary and treasurer to two consecutive terms of four years each.
The Sports Ministry on May 1 revived its 35-year-old guidelines and modified the tenure clause, extending the term of all NSFs, including IOA, to 12 years or three terms with or without break.
The sports bodies, however, rejected it outright, saying it is a violation of their democratic and independent existence.
IOA secretary-general Randhir Singh, who is also India’s representative at the International Olympic Committee (IOC), had said that the government’s directive might invite potential sanctions, including suspension of the country’s IOC membership.
Randhir and Kalmadi even showed the letters of support from the IOC and the Asian body which described the government notification as a violation of the Olympic charter.
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