Ministry puts AFI in a spot

General :We have objections on posts of president, secretary general

After the Indian Amateur Boxing Federation (IABF) and Archery Association of India (AAI), the Sports Ministry is all set to tighten the screws on Athletics Federation of India (AFI) regarding its April elections.

The Sports Ministry felt that several clauses followed in the AFI elections were in the violation of the Sports Code and “restrictive”, particularly to the candidature for the posts of president and secretary-general.

The Ministry officials, however, are still awaiting the approval of Sports Minister to dispatch their objections to the AFI.

“We found several clauses to be restrictive, which limits the number of candidates for the elections. It leads to elections only among close groups and it cannot be termed free and fair polls. We are still awaiting the approval from the Sports Minister and once we get that, we will be giving them three months time to hold fresh elections,” Sports Secretary P K Deb said.

“We have objections on only two posts of president and secretary-general. All others are fine.”

A High Court Order, on a petition filed by lawyer Rahul Mehra had emphasised the elections of the Executive Committee of the AFI should be held in compliance with all the provisions of  the bye-laws of the AFI as well as the Sports Code.

It also added that “only if the elections are held in accordance with aforesaid provisions, the Government of India shall accord recognition and not otherwise.”

The AFI elections took place on April 14 and 15, but Mehra questioned the validity of the elections saying that not only the procedure for holding the elections as per bye-laws has been violated but the Sports Code has also not been adhered to. The AFI had refuted the allegations.

Interestingly, the Clause VIII in the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) also puts a cap on the candidatures for the post of president and secretary-general.

It states: “However, it shall be mandatory requirement for elections to the posts of President and Secretary-General that only those members, who had held the office and were members in the Preceding Executive Council of the IOA for  four years, shall be eligible to contest the elections.”

Mehra had challenged the clause, saying it puts restrictions on the persons who would be eligible to contest the elections and denies the right to contest to other members of the IOA.

The Sports Ministry had already suspended the Boxing and Archery federations last week over violation of Sports Code.  

The boxing federation had also been asked to conduct fresh elections within 15 days.

The suspension also means that the government will withdraw its funding to the federations. Sports Minister Jitendra Singh, however, had assured the interest of the athletes would be taken care of.

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