Supreme Court grants IOA interim relief against Delhi HC order setting up panel to run it; appeal to be heard on August 22

AP Photo/Jae C. Hong, File

The Supreme Court granted interim relief to the Indian Olympic Association (IOA), ordering a status quo and said the Delhi High Court-appointed three-member Committee of Administrators (CoA) will not take over the affairs of the IOA.

A bench headed by Chief Justice N V Ramana took note of the submissions of Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Centre and the IOA, that the world sports body does not recognise any un-elected bodies like the CoA and consequently, India may be barred from taking part in international sports events.

The Supreme Court took note of the submissions of the law officer that the order may have negative repercussions on the nation and granted the interim relief - ordering status quo into the affairs of the IOA.

Consequently, the Delhi High Court-appointed COA, comprising former Supreme Court judge Justice Anil R Dave, former Chief Election Commissioner S Y Quraishi, and former Secretary of Ministry of External Affairs Vikas Swarup, will not be able to take over the IOA.

The Supreme Court has now posted the appeal of IOA for further hearing on August 22.

The IOA "welcomed" the interim relief granted to it by the Supreme Court, saying it will continue to challenge the "contentious" clauses of the National Sports Code, primarily related to "tenure guidelines" for officials and voting rights" of state bodies.

"It is a welcome order by the Hon'ble Supreme Court. The IOA and the government jointly approached SC. We had the full support of the government. We are happy that the Court took into consideration our submission," IOA secretary general Rajeev Mehta told PTI.

According to the draft National Sports Code 2017, the age and tenure restrictions will be applicable to all officials and not just the president, secretary and treasurer of the nation's sports bodies.

While the tenure of an official can be a maximum of three terms, 12 years to be precise, including a cool-off period, the upper limit of age is kept at 70 years.

But as per the current IOA Constitution, an official can hold his or her office for 20 years without any cooling-off period. The IOA said it will continue to oppose these "contentious" guidelines.

"Our main objection is on tenure guidelines. The Sports Code has already reduced the tenure of a sports administrator from 20 years to 12 years. After two terms of four years each, an official has to go for a cooling off period, we can't accept this," Mehta said.

"The Sports Code also took away the voting rights of state associations and non-Olympic sports federations, which is not fair. We want the Hon'ble Supreme Court to rectify the erroneous guidelines of the Code. We can only appeal, rest depends on the Court. We just hope a favourable order comes on August 22," Mehta added.

On August 16, the Delhi High Court had ordered the setting up of a three-member CoA to manage the affairs of the IOA.

The high court said the persistent recalcitrance of the IOA to comply with the National Sports Code made it imperative that its affairs be put in the hands of the CoA.

The court directed the executive committee of IOA to hand over charge to the newly appointed committee and noted that the members of the CoA would be assisted by three eminent sportspersons, namely, Olympic medallist shooter Abhinav Bindra, former long jumper Anju Bobby George, and archer Bombayla Devi Laishram.