AICF chief sacks secretary but Chauhan claims he still holds the post

The wrangling between the All India Chess Federation (AICF)president P R Venketrama Raja and secretary Bharat Singh Chauhan continued with the former dismissing the latter from his post and appointing Vijay Desphpande of All Marathi Chess Association in his place.

In a letter dated March 30, Raja listed out various omissions and commissions of Chauhan and said that under the powers vested with the AICF president under Article 15(a) of the the federation’s constitution, the latter is removed from the post of secretary.

Chauhan on his part, in a letter dated March 31 hit out at Raja for dismissing him and said, “an office-bearer can be removed only with the support of two-third members of the Central Council by passing a resolution.”

Chauhan claimed that he remained the secretary of AICF and pledged to work tirelessly towards the welfare and development of the sport of chess and its stakeholders in India.

He also pointed out that Raja has not only attempted to remove him as the secretary, but also appointed Deshpande in his place without any election.

“The president has no authority to appoint any person as an officer-bearer of AICF,” Chauhan contended.

He alleged that Raja seems to have taken the decision as the government of Maharashtra has been asking the All Marathi Chess Association to submit the accounts for the Rs 2 crore grant given to it for the purpose of holding the World Youth Chess Championship in 2019 in Mumbai.

On March 18, 2020, the Maharashtra government had written to Raja asking him to instruct the All Marathi Chess Association to submit the expenditure statement and utilisation certificate to the Sports Department of Maharashtra.

Chauhan claimed that the letter (dismissing him) was a “pointless and malicious attempt on his (Raja’s) part to prevent” him from taking action against All Marathi Chess Association and Bengal Chess Association for alleged misappropriation of funds allotted to them.

“The illegal action of Mr Raja, is nothing but a malicious attempt to cover his tracks and trying to prevent me from taking action against the people involved in the misappropriation of funds,” Chauhan said.

He also claimed that Raja had ceased to hold office as the the president of AICF with effect from February 11, the day on which the Madras High Court-appointed returning officer announced the election results and declared Ajay Patel as the new president.

He contended that Patel being the last person to hold the office of AICF chief prior to the court order, was the interim president till fresh elections are held.

Meanwhile, 12 state chess associations affiliated to the AICF have called for a special/extraordinary general body meeting of the federation in New Delhi on April 22.

According to a notice, the members who are not able to attend the meeting physically may attend the same through audio/video conferencing or even by email.

The agenda for the meeting according to the notice includes among others discussing and deciding the financial matters including the due payments of AICF; to discuss and decide about various court cases related to AICF, various cases filed by Tamil Nadu Chess Association and election matter; and take a decision for monitoring and regulating day-to-day functioning of AICF till fresh elections of office-bearers are conducted.

The faction led by Raja and Chauhan have been at loggerheads over various issues and the election process was taken to court.

The Madras High Court-appointed returning officer, retired Supreme Court Justice F M Ibrahim Kalifulla had declared Ajay H Patel as elected president, Chauhan as secretary, Naresh Sharma as treasurer, M Arun Singh as joint secretary, and Vipnesh Bharadwaj as vice president.

After the new office-bearers assumed office, the High Court set aside their election and asked Kalifulla to convene a Special General Body Meeting to conduct fresh elections after an appeal by Raja.

Subsequently, the Supreme Court dismissed an appeal by Chauhan against the High Court’s order.

The AICF is awaiting direction from the court regarding conduct of the election of office-bearers.