SC rejects Govt claim, allows HI, IOA to send women team to WC

SC rejects Govt claim, allows HI, IOA to send women team to WC

"The HI and IOA are permitted to send women's team to participate at women's world cup in Argentina," a Bench comprising Justices R V Raveendran and H K Gohkle said.

The Bench passed the order after Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports failed to produce any written communication to buttress that the International Hockey Federation (FIH) recognised it to send the team for world cup beginning on August 26.

HI succeeded in placing before it a communication by the FIH which said that it only recognises HI to represent Indian team in international event.

Webb Roger, the acting Director General of FIH, in the communication had made it clear that HI can only send a team to participate in the Women's World Championship.

The apex court noted that the players who have been selected for participation in the World Cup by the HI and the IOA are the same as identified and selected by the government's Sports Authority of India.

While passing the order, the Bench made it clear that "this is a temporary arrangement as the team has to be sent to Argentina by August 21" for country's participation in the sporting event.

It did not accepted the plea of the Ministry that some more time be granted to explain the factual position about the composition of the team.

To break the deadlock, the Bench had given opportunity to the Ministry to place before it by way of memo that the there was an assurance that the team sent by it for the world cup would be accepted by the organisers in Argentina.

However, after an hour, its counsel, who was asked to take instruction in this regard, placed before the Bench a hurriedly prepared document, which only said that the Government has discussed the whole affairs with FIH and was assured of the team's participation in the world cup.

This did not satisfy the Bench which gave credence to the e-mail communication received by the HI from the FIH recognising it as the only body in India for hockey.

"You (Ministry) produce the written communication (from the FIH)," the Bench said adding that it has not produced any document in support of its claim of representing Indian Hockey.

The apex court passed on the petition moved by the Hockey India challenging the government decision revoking recognition to it for allegedly flouting guidelines relating to age and tenure of officials.

The Ministry had contended that since HI was a 'private body' it could not be authorised to select the team for representing India in the world cup.

The Bench wanted to know how a private body was not entitled to represent the sports at the international arena and made a reference of cricket where Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) being a private body was representing Team India.

"Is HI different from BCCI. How BCCI is permitted to send Indian team," the Bench asked the counsel for the Ministry who said that aspect was also being looked into by the Government.

It also noted that the Government itself had earlier given provisional recognition to the HI till December 2010.

From the beginning, the Bench was concerned as to how under such circumstance, the team would participate in the world cup.

"What will happen to the team. How will it go. Will the international body (FIH) accept the team only on the ground that it is our national and internal matter," the Bench observed during the hearing.

Senior advocate Ashok Desai, appearing for the HI submitted that uncertainty is prevailing on the participation of Indian Women's hockey team in world championship following the withdrawal of recognition to it by the government.

The Ministry had claimed that it was recognised by the FIH to send the team for the women's world cup.

IOA through senior counsel Indu Malhotra supported the HI and submitted that the Ministry was presenting a factually wrong picture and asked the Bench to consider HI for sending the team as it was recognised by the FIH.

It said that if a decision was not taken urgently, it would be a national shame as Indian women team which has qualified in last 12 after eight years would be deprived to participate in the world cup.

The Indian Hockey Federation, through advocate D J S Narula, also intervended in the matter and submitted that it is a recognised body for sending Indian team to take part in international events, but the plea was opposed by the HI.

The HI has also sought revocation of a letter written by government to the International Hockey Federation about its decision that HI is not a recognised body.

The letter written by the government to the IHF on August 9 had said "Hockey India has lost the national character".

The government had derecognised the HI on the ground that it is a private body which cannot represent the Indian team.

The court wanted to know from the government counsel as to how HI was different from the Board of Cricket Control in India (BCCI).

HI has consistently been maintaining that it is the only recognised body for India by the International Hockey Federation.

The Delhi High Court had on May 21 held that the HI was a private body and restrained it from holding election for its office bearers. However, the apex court had later allowed the conduct of election.

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