Government explores forming Election Commission for Sports

Government explores forming Election Commission for Sports

The union sports ministry in its bid to clear the election mess in different National Sports Federations (NSFs) and the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) is exploring options to form an Election Commission for Sports (ECS) to ensure free and fair conduct of elections in sports bodies.

The ministry has formed a working group, headed by retired justice Mukul Mudgal, to re-draft the sports bill and to also look into the problem of conduct of free and fair elections of the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) and NSFs and keep away people with criminal charges from running the affairs of sports in India.

“The recent elections to some of the sports federations and IOA drew national attention. Several issues ranging from preparation of electoral rolls, appointment of Returning Officers and conduct of elections have often become controversial,” the ministry said in a statement.

“The working group may explore possibility of establishing a permanent and independent electoral mechanism (an Election Commission for Sports or ECS). The ECS should necessarily be completely autonomous and should be armed with sufficient powers to ensure free and fair elections. Such autonomy should also mean distancing the ECS not only from the NSF, but also from the government of the day,” the statement added.

The recent elections in IOA, athletics, archery, boxing, table tennis and football federations, have attracted the attention of the sports ministry.

The ministry feels that ad-hoc appointment of returning officers by various sports bodies do not seem to be adequate for the conduct of free and fair elections.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has banned the IOA over its election process. The Indian Amateur Boxing Federation (IABF) was also suspended by the international body for manipulating the elections and recently elected Table Tennis Federation of India (TTFI) Ajay Chautala was asked to step down after he was convicted by a court.

The group will prepare the new draft Sports Bill by May 31 and the draft model rules by Aug 31. Hockey India (HI) secretary-general Narinder Batra, former hockey player Viren Rasquinha, V.V.P. Rao, advocate Rahul Mehra are also a part of the working group.

The ministry said the working group would suggest the method of funding the ECS in order to ensure that it is both independent and autonomous.

The functions of the ECS could include - periodic declaration of election schedules for each NSF; preparation of the electoral college, resolution of disputes related to the electoral college; calling for nominations of candidates; scrutiny of nominations and preparation of lists of candidates; actual conduct of elections and declaration of results.

Meanwhile, the ministry said the re-drafted sports code would be binding on federations that seek assistance from the government that keeps the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) out of its ambit.

“The working group may like to consider if some of the provisions of the sports bill could be non-binding for those who do not seek assistance from the government in any form."

"It could also consider if a core group of NSF, say those governing the Olympic and Asian Games Sports disciplines could be compulsorily covered with the other NSF being given the right to opt out of such provisions. Assistance from government could be made conditional to accepting the relevant provisions of the sports bill,” the ministry said.

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