SC appoints ex-judge Justice L Nageswara Rao for amending constitution of IOA

NEW DELHI, Sep 22: In a bid to ensure a fair and development-oriented approach for the future of the Olympics in India, the Supreme Court Thursday appointed former apex court judge Justice L Nageswara Rao for amending constitution of Indian Olympic Association and preparing electoral college.
A bench headed by Justice D Y Chandrachud asked Justice Rao to prepare a road map for amending the constitution and holding elections by December 15, 2022.
“We accordingly request Justice L Nageswara Rao to take up the assignment in the interest of ensuring a fair and development-oriented approach to the future of the Olympics in the country,” the bench said.
It also gave its permission to Rajeev Mehta, who is currently the secretary general of IOA, and Adille Sumariwalla, vice president of IOA, to participate in the September 27 meeting with the International Olympic Committee.
“All logistical arrangements shall be made available to Justice Rao by the Joint Secretary, Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports, and to be reimbursed by IOA,” the bench, also comprising Justice Hima Kohli, said.
The top court also directed the IOA to deposit a sum of Rs 10 lakh with the Union Sports Ministry in this regard, towards providing logistical assistance to the former Supreme Court judge in his task.
It noted that the national games are being conducted after a gap of seven years in multiple cities in Gujarat.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) on September 8 issued a final warning to IOA to “resolve its governance issues” and hold elections by December, failing which the world sports body will ban India.
The executive board of the IOC, which met in Lausanne, Switzerland had also decided not to recognise any “acting/interim president” after Narinder Batra’s ouster as Indian Olympic Association president and said it will deal with secretary general Rajeev Mehta as the main point of contact.
The top court will now hear the matter after the Diwali vacation.
At the outset, Additional Solicitor General K M Nataraj informed the apex court that officials from IOA will be going to Lausanne to attend the meeting with IOC.
Senior advocate Menaka Guruswamy, appearing for State Olympic Associations, submitted that they would like the meeting to go ahead.
Senior advocate Rahul Mehra, who is the petitioner in person in the case, alleged that there is no independent voice in the delegation going to meet IOC except Abhinav Bindra.
The IOC letter sent by James McLeod, Director of Olympic Solidarity and NOC Relations, said: “During this transition period, and given that the IOC does not currently recognise any ‘interim/acting president of the NOC of India, the NOC Secretary General will serve as the main point of contact to coordinate the next steps with the IOC, in close consultation and in agreement with the NOC Executive Council and General Assembly.”
The IOC had also stated that its Executive Board reserves the right to take any further action at any stage of the process depending on how the situation develops.
It had also decided to postpone its session earlier scheduled to be held in Mumbai in May next year.
“In view of the uncertain situation, the IOC Session that is due to take place in Mumbai in May 2023 is postponed until September/October 2023,” the letter had said.
The IOC had also earlier threatened to suspend the IOA if it failed to conduct its election at the earliest.
The IOA elections were due in December last year but could not be held due to amendments in the poll process.
Last December, the IOA formed a six-member committee to look into the amendments to be made to its constitution before holding elections to align it with the National Sports Code.
In May this year, Batra was removed as IOA chief after the Delhi High Court struck down the post of ‘life member’ in Hockey India, through which he had contested and won the apex body elections in 2017.
Batra later officially resigned as IOA President. After he was removed by the High Court, Batra issued a statement, announcing his decision not to contest the IOA elections. (PTI)