The Sports Ministry on Wednesday issued a show-cause notice to the Indian Olympic Association, threatening to derecognise the body if it does not reverse its decision to make scam-tainted Suresh Kalmadi and Abhay Singh Chautala as Life Presidents.
Kalmadi and Chautala were elevated to the honourary position at the IOA’s Annual General Meeting in Chennai yesterday, shocking the Indian sporting landscape and leaving the Sports Ministry fuming.
As the storm gained in intensity on Wednesday, Kalmadi was the first to step aside, but Chautala refused to follow suit.
Sports Minister Vijay Goel said that it will severe ties with the IOA if the controversial decision is not overturned.
“The government has decided not to deal with the IOA as the National Olympic Committee until Shri Suresh Kalmadi and Shri Abhay Singh Chautala, both of whom have been charge-sheeted, resign or are removed from the posts of Life President in IOA,” the sports ministry said in a statement.
“The Government after careful consideration has decided to issue a show cause notice to IOA as to why it should continue to be recognized as the National Olympic Committee (NOC) when it has failed to conform to the basic principles of ethics and good governance,” it added.
“This is considered imperative because the present action of IOA, as the NOC, has adversely impacted the standing and prestige of the country and has set a wrong precedent that is not in the interest of Indian sports.”
The ministry said that it has consistently been opposing creation of posts in the IOA and other sports bodies which allow back-door entry to individuals who are otherwise ineligible, including those charge sheeted/convicted, to hold positions as office-bearers as per the provisions of Sports Code.
“The Ministry is of the firm view that the action of IOA is against the principles of ethics and good governance as laid down by International Olympic Committee. The action is also in contravention of principles laid down in various judgments by the Supreme Court of India and High Courts wherein they have maintained that NOC/NSFs perform state like functions, including selection of national teams and therefore they come within the writ jurisdiction of High Court and are governed by public law.
“The Ministry is of the view that IOA being the mother sports body is required to maintain the highest standards of probity and good governance and stand as a role model for others to emulate. But they have failed to do so,” the statement added.
Explaining further why the government was forced to issue the show-cause notice, the ministry statement said, “It may be recalled that when IOC suspended IOA in December 2012, one of the reasons was IOA’s failure to enforce the basic principles of ethics and good governance. Subsequent to this, IOA had to amend its constitution whereby it, inter-alia, inserted a clause to prohibit the persons who have been convicted and/or charge sheeted, from contesting elections.
“Therefore, the persons who cannot contest election for any post in IOA cannot also hold the post of Life President even without any voting or executive powers or even on honorary basis. The substantive point emerging from the present action of IOA is that it not only violated the condition imposed by IOC for lifting of the suspension, but also violated its own constitution.”
The ministry reiterated that as per the ruling of the Supreme Court, sports is a public good and sports governance is a public function and therefore sports bodies are subject to public law.
“Given the above mentioned principle enunciated by the Hon’ble Apex Court, IOA does not have the liberty to act as a private body and take decisions contrary to public law,” the ministry said.