Who all can contest or vote in the elections to the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) scheduled to be held here on November 25?

Are only office-bearers of a National Sports Federation (NSF) or State Olympic Association eligible to vote? These are questions that have come up in recent weeks even as rival groups are finalising their list of candidates to contest the elections. The intention of the Union Sports Ministry to write to the Indian Amateur Boxing Federation (IABF) regarding the rights of a “nominated chairman” to vote on behalf of the federation at an IOA General Assembly meeting has been brought into focus through media reports on Saturday.

Can Abhay Singh Chautala, nominated as ‘chairman’ of the IABF at its annual meeting at Patiala on September 23 last vote in the IOA elections?

The IOA election process has been set in motion and a clearer picture of the contestants in the fray would emerge within the next week. Chautala is expected to be a candidate.

His “nomination” by the IABF to a newly-created post, through a constitution amendment, was an apparent ploy to circumvent the government guidelines about the tenure of office-bearers since he had completed three terms at the helm and was no longer eligible, going by the guidelines.

IOA constitution

A simple reading of the IOA constitution will make it clear that Chautala need not have become an office-bearer or a “nominated chairman” of a federation to contest the IOA elections.

“Elections shall be held once in four years when due at the Annual General Meeting (Annual meeting of the General Assembly) to elect the Executive Council members as shown below, from amongst the representatives present,” says the IOA constitution. Now, to the question, whether a nominated chairman can vote. Any person authorised by a unit of the IOA can attend a general meeting and vote in an election. So says the IOA constitution. “The right of exercising the vote shall vest with the authorised representative of the voting member unit as per VIII (b)”, says the relevant IOA article. And VIII (b) says: “The voting units will forward to the IOA the names of the representatives who should be their member 20 days prior to the holding of the elections at the annual General Meeting of the IOA entitled to attend the Annual General meetings. The name(s) of the representatives entitled to vote and the accompanying representative as per the rules must be either approved in the AGM/SGM or duly signed by both President and Secretary-General of the concerned unit.”

The Sports Ministry could be of the view that only an office-bearer of a unit can vote at IOA elections. This reasoning does not have the backing of the model election guidelines issued by the ministry. They simply say that in case different persons are authorised to attend such meetings by the president and secretary-general then the person (s) authorised by the president “shall be deemed to be the duly authorised person(s)”. As per the IOA constitution, the federations whose sport is included in the Olympic Games (including those admitted at the last Special General Meeting), Asian Games and Commonwealth Games, and kho kho have three votes each. The State Olympic Associations, Delhi, Puducherry and the Services Sports Control Board have two votes each. The Union Territories have one vote each.

The IOC member in India (Randhir Singh) has one vote and two representatives of the Athletes Commission have one vote each.

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