The Supreme Court Monday said it will appoint a neutral person to run the administration of the Indian Olympic Association and directed the secretary in the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports to interact with the International Olympic Committee on the issue. International Olympic Committee (IOC) on September 8 issued a final warning to IOA to “resolve its governance issues” and hold elections by December, failing which the world sports body will ban India. The executive board of the IOC, which met in Lausanne, Switzerland had also decided not to recognize any “acting/interim president” after Narinder Batra’s ouster as Indian Olympic Association president and said it will deal with secretary general Rajeev Mehta as the main point of contact. A bench of Justices DY Chandrachud and Hima Kohli asked the secretary in the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports to interact with the Director of Olympic Solidarity and NOC Relations in the International Olympic Committee.
During the hearing, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Centre, suggested that a former judge of the Supreme Court may be appointed for amending the Constitution of the Indian Olympic Committee, prepare an electoral college, and conduct elections.
“The second suggestion is that the governance of administration may be entrusted to a neutral person who shall coordinate with the International Olympic Committee in terms of the letter dated September 8, 2022, of the IOC.
“The IOC has proposed a joint meeting on September 27, 2022, in Lausanne and it is necessary that a person shall coordinate with the IOC in close consultation. To facilitate this exercise, we have requested the Solicitor General and indicated that the secretary in the Ministry of Youth Affairs And Sports interact with the Director of Olympic Solidarity and NOC Relations in the International Olympic Committee and revert to this court on the next date of listing,” the bench said.
The top court will now hear the matter on September 22.
The IOC letter sent by James McLeod, Director of Olympic Solidarity and NOC Relations, said: “During this transition period, and given that the IOC does not currently recognize any ‘interim/acting president of the NOC of India, the NOC Secretary General will serve as the main point of contact to coordinate the next steps with the IOC, in close consultation and in agreement with the NOC Executive Council and General Assembly.” The IOC had also stated that its Executive Board reserves the right to take any further action at any stage of the process depending on how the situation develops.
It had also decided to postpone its session earlier scheduled to be held in Mumbai in May next year. “In view of the uncertain situation, the IOC Session that is due to take place in Mumbai in May 2023 is postponed until September/October 2023,” the letter had said. The IOC had also earlier threatened to suspend the IOA if it failed to conduct its election at the earliest.
The IOA elections were due in December last year but could not be held due to amendments in the poll process.
Last December, the IOA formed a six-member committee to look into the amendments to be made to its constitution before holding elections so as to align it with the National Sports Code.
In May this year, Batra was removed as IOA chief after the Delhi High Court struck down the post of ‘life member’ in Hockey India, through which he had contested and won the apex body elections in 2017.
Batra later officially resigned as IOA President. After he was removed by the High Court, Batra issued a statement, announcing his decision not to contest the IOA elections.
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