The eligibility of Randhir Singh to contest for the post of president in the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) elections, scheduled for November 25, has been questioned.

In a communication to the Returning Officer for the elections, Justice V. K. Bali, on Friday, the Secretary-General of Hockey India (HI), Narinder Batra, has raised three main issues related to Randhir’s candidature.

Batra’s three points

The three points that Batra has raised come under the IOA constitution, the Societies Act 1860, and the Union Government guidelines 1975 and the National Sports Code 2011.

Randhir, Secretary-General of the IOA, who is also a member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) had announced his candidature for the post of president the other day.

In his objection filed before Justice Bali, Batra has stated that by being an IOC member, Randhir only had a right to vote in the General Assembly and the Executive Council of the IOA but he did not have the right to contest. A simple reading of the IOA constitution, however, places no such restriction.

The relevant article in the constitution only says that elections shall be held to elect council members from among the “representatives present”.

Being the IOC member, Randhir’s name figures at the number one slot in the electoral college announced.

Whether he can contest or not is not mentioned either in the Olympic Charter, which simply says that an IOC member will have the voting right, or the IOA constitution.

The Societies Act 1860 bars any member from voting if the person has not paid the subscription.

Batra’s petition says the IOC has not paid either an admission fee or a membership fee for Randhir and thus he could at best be an ‘ex-officio’ member “having right only to attend and vote.”

The other side has contended that the IOC members do not have to pay an annual membership fee.

Going by the 1975 guidelines, Batra has contended that having been secretary-general for more than two terms, Randhir cannot be contesting the president’s post this time.

The amended government guidelines of 2011, mainly based on the 1975 guidelines, actually bar the secretary and treasurer of a federation (and the IOA) from seeking “fresh election to either post”, not the post of president.

The 1975 guidelines, by way of an ‘explanation” stated that after two terms or eight years, the president and secretary or treasurer or vice president could not seek re-election for any of the said posts before a ‘cooling off’ period of four years.

Whether a portion of the old guidelines should be retained or not while interpreting the new set is a matter of debate at the moment.

The new set says that other provisions in the 1975 guidelines would remain. The dispute is about what should be retained.

There is a clear distinction in the new rules with regard to president’s tenure (maximum 12 years) and those of secretary and treasurer who can continue for two successive terms of four years before being forced to take a break.

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