Sports and the courts

Back in February, I’d alerted you guys to a petition Rahul Mehra [on Twitter] had filed against the Sports Ministry and the heads of various National Sports Federations.

Here, courtesy Rahul via Twitter, is the update, following a hearing in the Delhi High Court April 7:

Suresh Kalmadi has been head of the Indian Olympic Association for 15 years and counting.

Professor VK Malhotra has headed India’s archery association for an incredible 31 years now.

Sukhdev Dindsa’s stint with the national cycling body is 14 years and counting. J S Gehlot has led the kabbadi association for 24 years

And Digivijay Singh has performed a similar role with shooting for 10 years. Abhay Singh Chautala is the chief for boxing (8 years)

Captain Satish Sharma, of Sanjay Gandhi era fame (or infamy) has been in the leadership position of the national aero club for 24 years

KPS Gill has been in charge of hockey for 14 years; Rajesh Tiwari is,for 13 years and counting, the head of the national power lifting body;

KP Singh Deo is head of the national rowing body, a post he has now held for 9 years…

Every single sports body in India Has been systematically converted into personal fiefdom of politicians who have de facto tenure for life

ALL THIS IS ABOUT TO CHANGE……. In the last hearing (07.04.2010) of my PIL Delhi High Court has asked the Sports Ministry to explain the steps it has taken to ENSURE that NO head of national sports federation (NSFs) continued in their posts after completion of Two terms

I hd argued before the court that  heads of NSFs were violating guidelines by clinging to their posts beyond the permissible duration of 2 terms/8 yrs

While agreeing with my contention, Delhi High Court desired strict compliance of the National Sports Guidelines

According to the National Sports guidelines(1975) office bearers of theNSFs CANNOT hold office for more than 2 terms of 4 yrs each (max 8yrs)

Sports Ministry has been asked by the court to file an affidavit within 2 weeks detailing therein steps it has taken on compliance of the maximum two terms regulation

Next date of hearing in my PIL is 28.04.2010.

My friend Sumant was pointing out on Twitter that in and of itself, this does not change much. If the sports honchos are forced to comply with the two terms/eight years rule, they will merely milk the federations for all they are worth during their tenure, and make arrangements to pass the baton on to friends and fellow travelers — in much the same way that the leadership of the BCCI, though ostensibly decided through a democratic voting process, has been de facto converted into a sinecure handed over by the incumbent to someone from within his own circle.

True — in that sense, this outcome does not change anything substantially, it merely substitutes one lifetime crook into a succession of tenured crooks.

But the larger point is, this PIL is the start of a process of holding the sports ministry and the NSFs to account. This is the first hurdle; cross it, then pick the next battle to fight, and the next, till the system is refurbished, is what Rahul Mehra is aiming to do.

For further updates, follow Rahul Mehra directly through his Twitter stream.

It also makes for a change of pace from our usual cricket discussions — maybe we could for part of the time talk sports, when I’m live on Yahoo 3.30-4.30 pm IST today. Here.

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2 thoughts on “Sports and the courts

  1. It is a welcome step but the real change will happen when they come under RTI and people get to know their spending for foreign trips. Maybe then we can see lesser officials than players on opening ceremony of Olympics and other such events.

  2. Hats off to Rahul Mehra in bringing about this change. While it may not overhaul the system immediately, it’s definitely a good FIRST step. It serves as a wake-up call for all those bureaucrats who make the top chair their own and refuse to budge from there.

    Once again, Congrats Rahul Mehra and wish you continued success in bringing better sports administration system in our country. Cheers !

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