The prolonged legal battle has left Indian carrom in limbo for more
than a year and a half.
Except for competing in the World championship in Birmingham and another international event in the Maldives, the National Carrom Federation had been inactive, which has affected thousands of players across the country.
The case as such is very simple. The Union Sports Ministry unilaterally, without giving any chance for explanation, had derecognised the National Carrom Federation, after declaring its election invalid, with a letter dated February 4, 2016, alleging that it had not followed the sports code in holding its election on November 29, 2015.
It was clearly mentioned that the order was being issued with the approval of the Union Sports Minister. The then Sports Minister Sarbanand Sonowal went on to become the Chief Minister of Assam. The then elected president of the Indian Carrom Federation was a long-standing minister of the previous government in Assam, Rakibul Hussain.
However, in a subsequent affidavit the government changed its argument and said that it was a dispute between two factions.
Quite interestingly, the court had ordered the petitioner, the secretary of the Indian Carrom Federation (ICF), V.D. Narayan, to meet an officer of the government and directed the government to study the subject and present a report before the court on the next date of hearing on May 18, 2016.
Even though the report was made as directed within the time frame, it has not been presented to the court for more than a year!
In the report made by a Director of the Sports Ministry after the questioning of the petitioner and the deliberations with the officer who had issued the letter to the Carrom Federation, seeking fresh elections for the federation, in a place “other than Guwahati’’, the government order was found to be wrong.
“The grounds stated in the Department of Sports letter dated 4.2.2016 for considering the All India Carrom Federation’s elections held on 29.11.2015 at Guwahati as not being held in a fair and transparent manner seem to be untenable and incorrect,” the report had categorically stated.
This was produced before the court by the secretary of the Carrom Federation, after he was allowed to examine the file by the court itself, when the report was not being presented in court despite repeated orders, but it has not taken cognisance of the crucial point that neutralises the case.
Thus, the conclusion of the report made as per the direction of the court itself that, “the grounds for issue of letter of Department of Sports dated 4.2.2016 are not found to be correct, based on documents submitted by Vivek Dheesh Narayan in the present hearing,” has been lost in the voluminous files that are presented in the court, that simply gather dust with the passage of time.
Meanwhile, the International Carrom Federation had categorically stated that it had no qualms in recognising the new elected body, and had rejected any attempts by other agencies to deal with it directly especially for ensuring the Indian entries for the World championship.
In such a scenario, it will be interesting to see how the International Federation responds to the latest court order that has appointed an ad-hoc committee, with a government official as chairman, two former players, the petitioner and a member from the deemed other faction, who has not challenged the election result.
Once the government has observed, after a thorough investigation, that it was at fault and that questioning the validity of the election of the federation was incorrect, the question of a rival faction does not arise.