New Delhi, Dec 7: After the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the world boxing body AIBA, it was the turn of the sports ministry to get into to the act Friday by de-recognising the Archery Association of India (AAI) and suspending the Indian Boxing Federation (IABF).
The government took the decision within hours of the International Boxing Association (AIBA) provisionally suspending IABF for possible manipulation of its elections.
Curiously the government chose federations headed by persons associated with the IOA – one headed by outgoing IOA acting president Vijay Kumar Malhotra (archery) and the other headed by newly-elected IOA chief Abhay Singh Chautala (boxing).
Sports Minister Jitendra Singh also stated the same reasons saying AAI elections held Nov 9 were in violation of the Sports Code and common practice and the nomination process of the IABF elections, held Sep 23, was flawed.
Malhotra, 81, was elected as the AAI president for a tenth consecutive term, spanning a period of 40 years.
In the IABF, Abhishek Matoria replaced hos brother-in-law Chautala as the president. Chautala was elevated as the first chairman of the IABF.
“The President elect (V.K. Malhotra) of the Archery Association of India has served for more than three consecutive terms in the past and is also above the age of 70 years,” said Singh.
Singh said IABF have also been given 15 days to hold fresh elections and till then their recognition stands suspended.
“The publication of the electoral roll was flawed because it was not possible for the electoral roll to be dispatched to members by post prior to the last date for filing of nominations and merely publishing on the website is not considered sufficient notice or information to all members,” said Singh.
“Members were not given sufficient time to file nominations as the gap between the finalisation of the electoral roll and the filing of nomination was too short to allow people to travel large distances and file nominations personally.
“Nominations of candidates were taken from the floor of the House on a date which was after last date of nomination and this is not permissible,” said Singh
Asked why the government waited this long to take acton, sports secretary P.K. Deb said: “The sports ministry never wanted to be seen in the light that it was interfering in Indian sports. We were waiting for IOA elections to get over. It is just a coincidence that we have come with the decision today.”
The minister said the Delhi High Court in its Civil Writ Petition No.195/2010 dated Feb 15 and Sep 17 had directed that the Government shall not grant recognition to the AAI unless they hold elections as per the Sports Code.
The government funding for the AAI will stop immediately. The Government is contemplating interim measures so that the athletes are not affected.
IABF said its chairman and president were willing to quit their posts to pave the way for a fresh election if it would satisfy the international federation and the sports ministry in lifting the suspension they imposed on the national body.
Chautala, however, maintained that no rules were flouted as the election was conducted by retired judges and was overseen by government observers.
“The election was held in the presence of retired judges and government observers. But, if the AIBA and the government feel the process was manipulated, we are ready for a re-election. I am ready to quit the post of chairman. AIBA and the government can send their observers and fix a fresh date,” said Chautala.
Echoing more or less the same sentiments, Matoria said the IABF had submitted a detailed report on the election to the AIBA.
“Our main concern is the suspension slapped by the AIBA. If they lift it, then the government will also fall in line. But if they are not convinced we can go for a fresh election,” he said.
Malhotra, AAI president for 40 years, called the sports ministry’s decision of derecognising the national sports federation unconstitutional and arbitrary.
“We have not violated any rule or law of the land and the decision is illegal,” said Malhotra.
The 80-year-old said he was surprised at the government’s argument that AAI had not adhered to the Sports Code of India.
“Sports code of the Government of India has no legal sanctity. It is not an Act, it is not a part of the constitution and there has not even been a Gazette notification about this so called code.”