The age and tenure limits set by the government have been much debated in the run-up to the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) elections. But when the time came to implement them, during scrutiny of nomination papers, no one, least of all Justice VK Bali, returning officer for the December 5 polls, had a clue how to weed out ‘overage’ candidates. Reason: the nomination form has no date-of-birth column!
So, despite knowing that K Murugan, who is contesting the post of secretary-general, is well past the stipulated age of 70 mentioned in the government’s sports code, Bali could not reject his application.
“There is no date-of-birth column in the nomination proforma,” said Justice Bali. “It is not within our jurisdiction to add this extra column in the nomination proforma as this has been followed over the decades. So, it was up to the people who were raising objections to his [Murugan’s] candidature to furnish proof of his age.
“As returning officer, my jurisdiction is only to follow the sports code and the IOA charter. Based on that I have cleared the nomination of Mr Murugan. All those who were raising objections against his candidature withdrew their complaints and never produced any documents in support [of their contention].”
Meanwhile, Randhir Singh took everyone by surprise when he decided against contesting the post of president, barely two hours before the returning officer was to announce the final list. This means Abhay Singh Chautala is set to be elected IOA president. Chautala’s ‘covering’ candidate Raj Chopra also withdrew his candidature.
DNA has learnt that the Chautala camp had raised an objection against Randhir Singh for not obeying the sports code’s requirement of a four-year cooling period before contesting for president. Singh, however, dismissed the report.
“I asked the sports ministry whether I’m eligible to contest the election or not in my letter dated November 14, 2012. AK Patro, the under-secretary, in his letter dated November 15 wrote that ‘provision of the National Sports Development Code 2011 doesn’t specifically debar a person who has held 2 (or more) terms as general secretary, to contest for the post of president. And this undertaking has also been given by the government in the Delhi High Court,” Randhir clarified.
The outgoing secretary general said he had pulled out of the elections as he was “pained” by the “slanderous campaign” carried out against him by Chautala. “There has been a slanderous and malicious campaign against me by some people in the IOA. I will expose them but I do not want to stoop to that level,” Randhir said.
He said his rivals have been raising the issue that an IOC member cannot contest the elections, but there are no provisions in the IOA Constitution which bar an IOC member from contesting.
“They have been raising such issues just to prevent me from contesting. I am a former shooter who has represented the country and I am not a person who hankers for positions. I have been in sports administration for long and their allegation that I am hankering for this position will be proved wrong,” he said. “In India, there are lot of people who can take up such positions and can do a good job as well,” he added.
Chautala welcomed his rival’s withdrawal. “I thank Randhir for withdrawing his nomination. This is precisely what we had been telling him from day one for the unity of the IOA. I will do everything to make IOA an efficient organisation.”