In a setback for the Indian Hockey Federation (IHF), the Supreme Court on Monday gave its approval for keeping International Hockey Federation (FIH) out of a legal battle between IHF and Hockey India (HI) over recognition of the sole body to run the game in the country.
A bench of Justices HL Dattu and SA Bobde dismissed a plea by the IHF to have the international body as a party to the case since dropping their name would take them out of the ambit of the court’s final decision. The bench upheld the Delhi High Court order whereby FIH’s prayer to be deleted from the array of parties was allowed.
The development is significant in view of the recent amendment in the rules by the FIH, which has now decided to rule by its own as to whether the IHF or HI has to be recognised as the sporting body to manage the game of hockey in India.
FIH was earlier named as a party in the High Court since it had asked the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) to take a decision on the recognition. IOA had accepted a decision by its special committee that HI should be the official body in the country. But the
High Court, on a petition by IHF, had ordered to maintain status quo till the case is finally disposed off.
change of rules
Subsequently, the FIH changed its rules and took it upon itself to pronounce over the recognition of the body. It then moved the High Court and got its name deleted as a party, saying it had withdrawn its directive to the IOA for deciding on the recognition.
On Monday, senior advocate UU Lalit, appearing for the IHF, urged the bench to keep FIH as a party since the change in rules was an attempt to run away from the jurisdiction of an Indian Court. He said that the order of the IOA on recognising HI was liable to be challenged in an Indian court but if FIH now recognises HI, the IHF may have no legal remedy since it was an international body with its office in Switzerland.
The bench however responded: “Will an order by a high court be enforceable on an international body? Jurisdiction of this court will not go to the FIH, which is in Switzerland. What would the High Court do if an international body comes up and says we don’t want to be a party to a case? We don’t think the High Court did not anything wrong.”
It added that the IHF should think of appearing before the FIH to present its case and tell the international body that there were court orders favouring its recognition.
“Its a matter between the FIH and the IOA. You will have to look for an appropriate remedy in law if the FIH passes an order not in consonance with what the High Court has said. But presently we cannot do anything,” said the court while dismissing the IHF’s plea.