NEW DELHI: The meeting of the Indian Olympic Association’s (IOA) office-bearers and the representatives of its member state units with the Supreme Court-appointed one-member committee of former apex court judge, Justice L Nageswara Rao, on Friday here saw snide remarks and personal attacks traded between the factions led by ex-IOA president Narinder Dhruv Batra and current secretary general Rajeev Mehta. It was followed by an impassioned plea by the state Olympic bodies (SOAs) to restore their voting rights, which has been done away with in the draft constitution of the IOA.
The marathon meeting at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium complex, which started around 11 am and lasted till 5 pm, witnessed some ugly scenes when a member of the Haryana state boxing association (HSBA) objected to the presence of IOA treasurer Anandeshwar Panday, who is facing charges of raping a national-level handball player, at the meeting, while apprising Justice Rao of Panday’s alleged sexual misconduct in the past.
Similarly, a member of the rival faction raised the issue of an FIR being lodged against Mehta in Uttarakhand’s Gopeshwar township over financial irregularities. There were also other instances of accusations and counter accusations by the rival groups, which threatened to defeat the purpose of the meeting for which it was originally called.
However, at the meeting, Justice Rao, flanked by his team of associate lawyers, patiently heard the submissions made by the IOA office-bearers, SOAs and national sports federations’ (NSFs) representatives, sports ministry’s joint secretary Kunal and the original petitioner in the case, Rahul Mehra, to set in motion the process to amend IOA’s constitution and prepare the electoral college to hold its elections on or before December 15.
“We have heard the submissions made by the representatives and will deliberate upon them,” Justice Rao said after the meeting.
On September 22, a bench headed by Justice D Y Chandrachud had appointed Justice Rao to prepare a roadmap for holding IOA’s elections and to ensure a fair and development-oriented approach for the future of the Olympics in the country.
The common refrain at the meeting was to restore the voting rights of the SOAs, while also tweaking the age and tenure clause as prescribed in the national sports code, 2011. But it’s unlikely that the IOA officials would, this time, be able to repeat their old trick of 2011 when they had awarded the voting rights to SOAs through an absurd voting pattern at their general house meeting, despite the strong objection by the International Olympic Committee (IOC).
“Once Justice Rao finalises the draft amendments, those have to be, by the order of the court, deemed to have been accepted by the general assembly of the IOA. If they try to hijack the process as they did in 2011, it will be contempt of court (SC’s order) this time,” Mehra said.
“At the state Olympic association level, the sports code is not applicable. There are no age and tenure restrictions there and you can have any number of tenures. These people then come through that particular channel. What you can’t do directly, you do it indirectly, which is impermissible in the law. This is also like circumventing the sports code because it’s not permissible in the sports code, yet you are doing it in the state body. Therefore, this time, the IOC has also agreed and the government of India is also onboard that we will not allow this thing to happen,” Mehra added.


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By Dipak

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