The Federation of Motor Sports Clubs of India's recent statement that it has referred the case of Narain Karthikeyan and his teammates to the FIA, motor sport's world body, for its opinion and recommendations, has shocked many seasoned motor sport officials in the country.
The FMSCI, which governs motor sport in the country, had issued a show cause notice to former F-1 driver Narain, who runs the NK Racing team, after he ‘spoke' to the media expressing surprise when his team driver Parthiva Sureshwaran was docked a 10-second penalty for missing a drivers' briefing during the MRF International Challenge in Chennai
Later, after listening to the drivers' views, the FMSCI President K.D. Madan had said that since the issue was “a first of its kind in the country… and a delicate issue,” it had referred it to the FIA.
Nazir Hoosein, a former Vice-President of the FIA, was shocked to hear that the FMSCI had referred the matter to the FIA.
‘No role for FIA'
“The FIA has no role to play as it is an issue relating to India. Also, the FIA will not wish to get involved as it is purely local,” said Hoosein, who was also the President of Motorsports Association of India, which ran the sport in the country for a few years.
“The sporting regulations are very clear… when it is an issue pertaining to a particular country, then it is the Federation of that country that needs to take a decision and not the FIA. The FIA cannot create the law of the land,” he said.
“In Narain's case, the event had happened inside India. So, it is for the FMSCI to decide unless the international event in India involves a foreign driver. The FIA is only going to refer the matter back to India,” said Hoosein, who is based in Mumbai.
R. Gopinath, former chairman of the FMSCI's four-wheeler racing commission, backed Hoosein's views. “It came as a rude shock to me to learn from you that this matter has been referred to the FIA. If this is true, then it is indeed a very sad day for India and Indian motor sport. As you must be well aware we have had a lot of unpleasantness in the issue of sporting power in India. The FMSCI is the current holder of the power in India. Therefore I don't see why it is not in a position to apply the provisions of the sporting code, a code which governs everyone in the world of motor sport.
“As regards the actual matter, I do not want to comment on it as I am unfamiliar with the exact facts of the case. In my experience, in the motor sports world, I have found that there are always two sides to any matter and it is only fair that a judgement be made when both sides are heard. That is how I always made my decisions as a steward. It also would have been prudent of the FMSCI if a press statement was given, so that there will not be idle speculation on the matters in dispute, given Narain's profile.
‘No comments for now'
When The Hindu spoke to the FIA in Paris for its views, its Press Officer said she had no idea about the matter and was still looking for information.
“Where did you get this information from,” she asked. “Am still waiting for the people here to confirm, and I can't say anything at the moment. We are trying to find out and will be able to tell you something as soon as we get some information,” she added.
“If the Indian organisation had said it was sent to us then we need to find out. It's a big organisation and we will try to find out,” she said.
Meanwhile, Rajan Syal, FMSCI's Chief Executive Officer, said that a final decision on the matter would come out soon after the forthcoming meeting of the World Motor Sports Council, which will be taking up the issue. “That should be before March 18,” he said.
Mr. Madan, meanwhile, said the solution to the issue would take some time. “It's a big issue. Never before have we come across an issue of this magnitude. So, naturally it will take time. There are so many things to look at and we do not want to make noises to the media,” he said.
J. Balamurugan, FMSCI's Disciplinary Committee Chairman, said he has asked for details from the FMSCI. “Only then will I be able to say anything,” he said.