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HC asks sports czars to quit after 8 years
NEW DELHI, MAR 10 (Agencies):
Published on 10 Mar. 2009 10:10 PM IST
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Most of them do not believe in handing over the baton. Perched securely as heads of various sporting federations, sports bosses have been virtually unmovable. But maybe not for long. The Delhi High Court has now ruled that the Centre’s guidelines on restricting the tenure of office-bearers in sports bodies to two terms should be strictly enforced. Many sporting chiefs, includes several politicians, may have to rework their plans as the HC ruling means that the government funds to these organizations may dry up if they cling to office for more than eight years. The ruling could lead to changes in the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) as well as other sports bodies. Disposing a writ petition filed by Narinder Batra challenging the long stint of K P S Gill as president of Indian Hockey Federation, Justice Gita Mittal, in her 157-page judgment, ordered the Centre to look into fund utilization by IHF. Gill who was removed as IHF chief almost a year back by IOA which formed an ad hoc body to run the sport in the country. Though the petition focussed on IHF’s functioning, the HC did not forget to look into similar stories in other sports bodies including the apex IOA, which the court said were quite aware of central government guidelines. Justice Mittal said the associations could not term guidelines as interference in their autonomous functioning. She clarified that guidelines laid down criteria to give wide representation to states in sports administration panels. “It will therefore be apparent that the sports bodies have accepted the authority and competence of the government to lay down conditions and guidelines for eligibility, recognition of a federation or an association as a national level body as well as the manner in which dispensation of funds and state largesse would be effected,” she said. Ruling against a single individual staying as president or secretary of a sports body for years, Justice Mittal said there was every possibility that vested regional biases and interests could influence decision-making, especially selection of teams. “If such a tenure clause is not enforced, office-bearers could be repeatedly elected from a particular region and continue to dominate the affairs of the association/federation after having created a monopoly over the sport,” the HC said. Justice Mittal added, “Vesting the control (of sports bodies) in authorities from a particular region may result in diversion of funds, selection of players from and development of a sport from only a particular region. The national federation would not then remain representative of the hopes and aspirations of sportspersons of the entire nation.” The only panacea for this was a limited tenure of two terms as prescribed in the government guidelines. “A limited office tenure will have the impact of minimizing, if not eliminating, allegations, criticism and elements of nepotism, favouritism and bias of any kind,” Justice Mittal said.

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