The Supreme Court said Monday it will appoint a neutral person to head the administration of the Indian Olympic Association and has instructed the secretary of the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports to communicate with the International Olympic Committee on the matter. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) issued a final warning to the IOA on Sept. 8 to “resolve its governance issues” and hold elections by December or the world sports organization will ban India. The IOC Governing Council, meeting in Lausanne, Switzerland, had also decided not to recognize an “acting/interim president” following Narinder Batra’s ouster as president of the Indian Olympic Association and said it said Secretary-General Rajeev Mehta as the main point of contact. A bench of judges DY Chandrachud and Hima Kohli asked the secretary of the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports to communicate with the director of Olympic Solidarity and NOC relations in the International Olympic Committee.
During the hearing, Advocate General Tushar Mehta, who appeared before the Center, suggested that a former Supreme Court judge could be appointed to amend the Indian Olympic Committee constitution, prepare an electoral college and hold elections.
“The second suggestion is that the administration of the administration may be entrusted to a neutral person who will coordinate with the International Olympic Committee in terms of the IOC’s September 8, 2022 letter.
“The IOC has proposed a joint meeting on September 27, 2022 in Lausanne and it is necessary that a person coordinates in close consultation with the IOC. In order to facilitate this exercise, we requested the Solicitor General and indicated that the Secretary of the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sport communicate with the Director of Olympic Solidarity and NOC Relations in the International Olympic Committee and return to this court on the next posting date,” the bench said.
The highest court will now rule on the case on September 22.
The IOC letter from James McLeod, Director of Olympic Solidarity and NOC Relations, states: “During this transition period, and given that the IOC does not currently recognize an ‘interim/acting president of the NOC of India, the NOC Secretary will -General act as a central point of contact to coordinate the next steps with the IOC, in close consultation and in accordance with the NOC Executive Council and the General Assembly.” The IOC had also stated that the Governing Council reserves the right to take further action at any stage of the process, depending on how the situation develops.
It had also decided to postpone the previously scheduled session in Mumbai next May. “Given the uncertain situation, the May 2023 IOC session in Mumbai will be postponed to September/October 2023,” the letter said. The IOC had also previously threatened to suspend the IOA if it did not hold its election at the earliest.
The IOA elections were scheduled to take place in December last year, but could not be held due to changes in the voting process.
Last December, the IOA formed a six-member committee to look at changes to the constitution before holding elections to bring it into line with the National Sports Code.
In May of this year, Batra was removed as IOA chief after the Delhi Supreme Court removed the position of ‘life member’ in Hockey India, leading him to contest and win the 2017 top body election.
Batra later officially resigned as IOA president. After being removed by the Supreme Court, Batra issued a statement announcing his decision not to participate in the IOA elections.
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