The Supreme Court recently stayed a Delhi High Court order to hand over the affairs of the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) to a Committee of Administrators (CoA) and directed that the status quo be maintained. The High Court justified the order by citing the IOA’s persistent reluctance to comply with the Sports Code.
- After the Centre and the IOA informed the SC that the charge had not yet been transferred to the three-member CoA, a three-judge Bench issued an order to maintain the status quo.
- The Delhi HC recently directed the formation of a CoA composed of former SC judge Justice Anil R. Dave, former Chief Election Commissioner S.Y. Quraishi and former Secretary of the External Affairs Ministry Vikas Swarup.
- It has asked the IOA’s Executive Committee to immediately hand over the task to the CoA.
- CoA would be assisted by three famous athletes, Olympians Abhinav Bindra, Anju Bobby George and Bombayla Devi Laishram.
- The SC issued its order in response to the Centre and the IOA’s urgent warning that the Delhi HC’s decision to create a CoA risked excluding India from participating in international events such as the Olympics.
- The International Olympic Committee (IOC) rules state that representation of a national level body, such as the IOA, by a non-elected body is considered third-party interference.
- As a result, there is a high probability that India will be banned from competing in any Olympic event.
- Eg., the recent suspension of AIFF by FIFA has placed doubt on India’s hosting of the Under-17 Women’s World Cup in October.
- The SC had similarly transferred AIFF authority to a CoA.
About the Sports Code –
- The National Sports Development Code of India was notified by the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports, Government of India, in 2011.
- At that time, most sports federations had become personal kingdoms of specific individuals (mostly politicians), who had remained in power for long periods of time.
- Against this backdrop, the government notified the National Sports Development Code of India.
- It is a set of regulations, enunciating the basic universal principles of good governance, ethics and fair play in the management of sports without interfering in the autonomy of the national sports bodies.
- The Sports Code seeks to put restrictions on the age and tenure of the office-bearers of federations apart from envisaging transparent functioning along with free and fair elections.
Enforcement of the Code –
- In 2014, a Delhi High Court bench ruled that the Central government can compel obedience to these rules (sports code) without the use of legislation and that the sports code provisions were neither arbitrary nor violate any constitutional freedom.
- The court also ruled that non-compliance with the code is considered to be against the public interest.
What happens when the Sports Code is violated?
- The Delhi HC court has said that a federation that does not follow the guidelines should be suspended.
- Additionally, it has also suggested that grants given to the federations should be stopped.
- The respective federations can be put under a Committee of Administrators (CoA). For example,
- The Supreme Court had appointed a three-member CoA (in May, 2021) to run the All-India Football Federation (AIFF).
- In an affidavit, the Sports Ministry stated that the president of AIFF (Praful Patel) has been president for more than 12 years, in contravention of the Sports Code.