One term for officers in sports bodies

Amid calls to reform sporting bodies, the Ministry of Defence has issued fresh guidelines that would restrict officers from armed forces to holding just one term to keep vested interests at bay.

A recent MoD circular to the Army, Navy and Air Force says the term of office in sporting federations or associations for service officers should not exceed four years or a single tenure whichever is less.

While applying for positions in sporting bodies, officers should also get clearance from their seniors or from the service headquarters.

Several serving defence officers hold positions in sporting bodies such as the National Rifles Association, Indian Amateur Boxing Federation, All India Tennis Association, Rowing Federation of India and the Yachting Association of India.

The circular also advises officers to desist from raising funds or collections from both official and non-official sources for promotion of sports, including for the sporting body in which they hold official position.

Besides, while supporting the candidature of a person seeking election to a sporting body, the circular asks armed forces personnel to be wary of indulging in “conduct unbecoming of an officer”.

The ministry has also mandated officers to take prior clearance from it while going on foreign tours as part of sporting federations they are associated with. They should also indicate the source of funding for those trips, including for travel, hospitality and other expenses.  The fresh rules, however, allow officers to hold positions in two different sporting bodies, though it asks them to provide justification and seek clearance if they intend to represent more associations.

The ministry has advised the three forces to amend their services act to conform to the Central Civil Services Conduct Rule of 1964 which would ensure uniformity. 

Two years ago, a government officer had dragged the National Rifles Association to court following his expulsion for insisting on a second term, despite being ineligible due to revised government guidelines in 2010. The court had then remarked that a bureaucrat’s role in sporting bodies must be minimal.

The move by the defence ministry is in response to calls for transparency in sports administration.

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