The Indian Olympic Association (IOA) will have equal representation of male and female members with voting rights in its General Assembly, a remarkable achievement considering its troubled and faction-ridden recent past, if it approves the draft constitution at its Special General Meeting on November 10.
The IOA will also throw open the president’s post to any citizen of the country, a radical change from the earlier requirement for a candidate to have served in the executive committee.
A similar provision was included in the constitution of the All India Football Federation (AIFF) recently after it was banned briefly by the international parent body FIFA.
The elected post of secretary general, which was held by some eminent personalities in the past, will no longer be there and his role will be taken over by a CEO appointed by the executive council.
The CEO will have no voting right and will be an ex-officio member of the executive council.
The draft constitution prepared by the Supreme Court-appointed one-man committee of retired SC judge L Nageswara Rao and approved by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) is expected to be adopted by the IOA at its SGM here on November 10. The SC has approved holding of elections on December 10.
Some members and officials, though, are not happy with some of the provisions of the draft constitution, like the tenure rule and the removal of the restrictive clause of the presidential candidate, which they think may lead to powerful politicians or people with strong political connection occupying the top job.
The General Assembly will be made up of two representatives — one male and one female — with one vote each of the national federations whose sports are included in the programme of Olympic/Asian/Commonwealth Games, IOC members in India, two representatives of the Athletes’ Commission — one male and one female — with one vote each and eight representatives — four male and four female — who are sportspersons of outstanding merit (SOM) with one vote each.
As expected the state Olympic associations will no longer have voting rights.
Since India’s lone IOC member currently is Nita Ambani, the General Assembly of the IOA will have more female than male as far as members with voting right is concerned.
Ambani welcomed the draft constitution and lauded the greater representation of athletes and women in the document.
As per clause 11 of the draft constitution, the Executive Council will have 15 members, besides the IOC member in India, out of which at least four will be female members.
The Executive Council have one president, one senior vice president, two vice presidents — one male and one female — one treasurer, two joint secretaries — one male and one female — six other members out of which two — one male and one female — shall be from the elected SOMs, two representatives — one male and one female — elected by the Athletes Commission from among its members.
The IOC member(s) in India must be ex-officio member(s) of the Executive Council with a right to vote.
Sportsperson of outstanding merit are those who have retired from active sports (should not have participated in any competitive event for at least one year prior to date of application) and had won at least one of any gold, silver or bronze medals in Olympics, Commonwealth Games or Asian Games.
The voting majority of the Executive Council shall consist of the votes cast by the federations affiliated to the international federations governing sports included in the programme of Olympic Games or their representatives in accordance with the Olympic Charter.
To be eligible to become an office-bearer of the Executive Council, a member must be a citizen of the country, in full possession of his/her civil rights, less than 70 years old on the election date, not have been convicted or have had a negative opinion rendered by the Ethics Commission, and not have had charges framed by any court in India.
Under the tenure guidelines as provided in clause 14, no office bearer shall be allowed to hold office for more than three terms. No member shall hold one or more office bearer’s post for more than two consecutive terms.
An office bearer shall have to undergo a cooling-off period of four years after two consecutive terms, subsequent to which he/she shall be eligible to hold office for another term. Two terms shall be treated as consecutive when the gap between them is less than the cooling off period.
Current secretary general Rajeev Mehta, who has served two terms in the post, is said to be unhappy with some of the provisions of the draft constitution.
“He (Mehta) is not happy with some of the provisions of the draft constitution, including the tenure rule. He feels that he has done a good job but may have to serve a cooling off period to contest again,” an official close to Mehta said.
“There is also some doubt over whether he is ineligible to contest for any post.”
Members who have already completed three terms (consecutive or not) in any post of office bearer shall not be eligible to contest for any post.
The age cap for any office bearer is 70 years on the election date.
The draft constitution unmistakably gave precedence of Olympic Charter over the country’s statutes.
It said that the Olympic Charter will have precedence over the provisions of the Societies Registration Act of 1860, under which it was established, as applicable in NCT of Delhi.
It also said that “no provisions of the national sports code shall be applicable to the IOA if they are in contradiction with the Olympic Charter and this newly adopted Constitution”.
“In all matters relating to the interpretation and application of the Constitution, as well as in matters not specifically provided for herein, the decision of the General Assembly shall be final and binding on all concerned, to the extent that such decision is not in contradiction with the Olympic Charter,” it said.
The IOA elections were due in December last year but could not be held owing to a pending case in the Delhi High Court where a petition was filed, seeking amendment in its constitution before holding elections to align it with the National Sports Code.
The IOC, which had threatened to ban India if the IOA elections are not held by December, had earlier agreed “in principle” to most of the points raised by the Delhi High Court in its August decision, saying they were compatible with the Olympic Charter and the basic principles of good governance, except for two major points.
Rao had made extensive consultations with various stakeholders, including advocate Rahul Mehra, the original petitioner in the Delhi High Court, officials of the IOA, sports ministry, Sports Authority of India, NIS Patiala and many NSFs.
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