Government gets tough; suspends boxing, archery bodies
After the International Olympic Committee's (IOC) suspension of the Indian Olympic Association (IOA), now it was the turn of the sports ministry to get into to the act by de-recognising the Archery Association of India (AAI) and suspending the Indian Boxing Federation (IABF).
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).
The government took the decision within hours of the International Boxing Association (AIBA) provisionally suspending IABF for possible manipulation of its elections.
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 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.
"In view of the directions of the High Court, the Government has no option but to withdraw the recognition of the AAI. They have been advised to hold fresh elections for the post of president, in conformity with the Sports Code. They have also been requested to amend their constitution to bring it in conformity with the Sports Code and Olympic Charter. This would help avoid such conflicts in future," he said.
The government funding for the AAI will stop immediately. The Government is contemplating interim measures so that the athletes are not affected.
The Government will also open a dialogue with the international body to ensure that participation of Indian athletes is not hampered in any way.
Earlier in the day, the International Boxing Association (AIBA) provisionally suspended IABF for manipulation of its election, a move that comes just two days after the IOC suspended the IOA.