Delhi High Court gets tough on National Sports Federations, asks ‘why it is difficult to adhere to sports code’

Court’s tough stand on National Sports Federations: The Delhi High Court on Friday asked the Centre to “get the National Sports Federations in order” by ensuring they follow the sports code and not to give them any relaxations with regard to grant of recognition.

“Get the NSFs (National Sports Federations) in order. Why is it difficult for them to adhere to the sports code,”a bench of Justices Vipin Sanghi and Najmi Waziri said to the central government while issuing notice to it and seeking its stand on a plea for stay of the recognitions granted to various sports federations which are allegedly not complying with the code.

“No relaxations in the interim while we are examining it,” the bench told central government standing counsel Anil Soni who was appearing for the Sports Ministry.

The court listed the matter for hearing on February 19 and asked the ministry to file its reply by February 18.

During the hearing, the bench said it has “doubts” regarding the relaxations being granted by the ministry to the non-compliant federations for recognising them.

“We have our doubts about the relaxations granted. If you are relaxing wholesale, then you have destroyed the sports code,” the court said.

It further said that once the federations have been allowed to continue till now despite non-compliance, there cannot be a fresh waiver or relaxation for them.

“Today if a clause is coming which will undo the sports code, that cannot happen. That is our view,” the bench said.

The court also observed that an administrator can be appointed in one of the federations to carry out its elections as per the code and based on the outcome the same can be replicated in other sports bodies as well.

The remarks by the court came while hearing an application moved by advocate Rahul Mehra for stay of a clause introduced in the sports code on February 1 for granting exemptions or relaxations with regard to recognition of federations.

Mehra claimed that by introducing the relaxation clause, the ministry was trying to “negate” or “nullify” the court’s orders to ensure the federations comply with the code before they are granted recognition.

The application has been filed in his petition challenging the recognition granted to 41 sports federations who were allegedly not complying with the code.

On January 8, the high court had said that the National Sports Code is the law and the federations which are not complying with it cannot be granted recognition.

It had asked the ministry to show that the federations which have been granted recognition are complying with the code.

On January 22, the court had directed the ministry to follow up with all the concerned sports federations on a regular basis and call for compliance reports from them with regard to all aspects of the sports code.

“The sports federations which do not fall in line and comply with the sports code do not deserve and would not be entitled to receive any grants from the central government,” it had said.

Mehra has said that subsequent to the January 22 order of the court, the ministry has granted recognition to two more federations which held elections in October and December last year.

In his application, he has sought contempt action against the ministry for “interfering with and obstructing the administration of justice by the order dated February 1”.

He has also sought a direction to the ministry not to grant any exemption to the National Sports Federations, including the Indian Olympic Association, from any provision of the sports code and to not grant any further recognition to any other sports bodies till the petition was pending.