IOA draft constitution ready, Supreme Court hearing today  

Express News Service

CHENNAI: The Indian Olympic Association (IOA) draft constitution is expected to be submitted in the Supreme Court on Thursday. As reported by this newspaper, the changes in the draft constitution could herald a new era in sports administration in the country. It is understood that the Centre too has requested the court for a hearing on Thursday. 

The SC-appointed one-man committee of retired judge, L Nageswara Rai, has apparently completed the drafting of the constitution and has sent it to persons concerned for perusal. According to senior advocate and petitioner Rahul Mehra, the Union Government had sought a hearing on November 3, instead of the earlier date of November 11. He also said that it was without keeping him informed and wondered why.

The constitution is expected to incorporate provisions of the 2011 National Sports Development Code of India, the Olympic Charter, various High Court orders and law of the land. The IOA secretary general, Rajeev Mehta, had called a Special General Meeting with a primary agenda to adopt the draft constitution. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has said that the constitution has to be vetted through a democratic process.

There is also a possibility the date for elections may be pushed by a few days. According to the IOC, the election process should get over by December 5 when its Executive Board meets. However, the IOA has called for a SGM on November 10 and going by its constitution to hold General Body Meeting, it needs “30 clear days”. In that case, the date of election at best can be December 10. It needs to be seen if the IOC agrees with this arrangement. The SC had suggested the draft constitution be submitted by November 7 and election be completed by December 3.

All IOA members are eagerly waiting for the draft constitution for their next move. The house is divided between two factions — one led by Mehta and the other now led by IOA vice president, Adille Sumariwalla after former IOA chief Narinder Batra stepped down. 

Since the constitution has not been finalised, the members are yet to make their next move. The decision on who can be the next president too is pending. Though members believe, like in the case of All India Football Federation and later Indian Cricket Board (BCCI) elections, the government might have a say, there are no clear indications as to who could be the presidential candidate. That the person could be a former player/coach, could be an Olympian, is not ruled out. 

The restrictive clause in the IOA constitution may be removed and that will pave way for individuals who were not part of IOA executive committee, to contest elections for the president’s post. Another clause that could affect IOA power centres is the voting pattern. Though some members wanted voting rights for State Olympic Associations, there are indications that as per Delhi High Court order, states may not get to vote. 

The Delhi HC has said that only National Sports Federations that represent in Olympics should have voting rights. However, it is likely that NSFs who are part of the Olympics, Asian and Commonwealth Games too might have voting rights. The SC-appointed one-member committee had heard both sides of disputed federations on October 29 and the electoral college will be finalised after evaluating the NSFs’ argument. 

Another point would be on the re-election of office-bearers that was asked to be 2/3. But IOC had said it should be a simple majority. 

It will interesting to see how IOA reacts on Thursday.

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