New Delhi: Hockey India on Tuesday became the
latest sports federation to reject government grant and go
ahead with its upcoming elections by defying the Sports
Ministry`s age limitation guideline.
In yet another snub to the Ministry, Hockey India said
that it will conduct its elections as per its constitution and
will not tolerate any interference from outside, thus becoming
the third sports body after IOA and Badminton Association of
India to refuse government aid.
On a day of high drama, Vidya Stokes` nomination for HI
president`s post was accepted by the Returning Officer,
setting the stage for a showdown with the Sports Ministry.
Stokes` candidature came under scanner yesterday after
the Sports Ministry made it clear that the "No Objection"
given to Hockey India for the July 28 polls was conditional
and would apply only on abiding with the recent age limitation
guidelines of the government.
Stokes, who earlier held the post of Indian Women`s
Hockey Federation chief, is presently 83 and as per the
government guidelines no official who is 70 or above is
eligible to contest elections of National Sports Federations.
But Justice Justice R C Chopra approved of Stokes`
nomination after Hockey India refused to go by the
government`s guidelines, saying the national body was bound by
the Societies Act and its own Constitution.
The HI`s decision to ignore government funds came to
light later in the evening when Sports Ministry observer SK
Mendiratta submitted his report.
"Narinder Batra (Stokes` representative) categorically
made a statement before the Returning Officer that the Hockey
India was not asking for any financial grant or facilities
from the Government and, therefore, the Hockey India was not
obliged to follow and implement Policy Guidelines of the
Government," the report said.
"They also submitted that HI was prepared to face the
consequences of not following the Government`s Policy
Guidelines. Taking note of these, Returning Officer accepted
the nomination of Stokes, by passing a speaking order,"
Mendiratta said in the letter.
Hockey India secretary general Batra doubted government`s
intention and said the conditional "No Objection" given to
them last year does not mention guidelines on age.
"We duly accept government`s guidelines on tenure
limitation of two terms of four years each. When we got the
`No Objection` from the government in August 2009, age
limitation was not there. We don`t accept the amendments made
in the guidelines in May 2010 because they were not made with
clear intentions," Batra said.
"We are not governed by the government, we are governed
by the Societies Act and by our own Constitution. The
government has no right to interfere in our Constitution," he
The government observer alleged that the returning
officer refused to give a copy of his order accepting Stokes`
nomination, saying that he would do so only asked by a court.
"I made an oral request to the Returning Officer for the
supply of a copy of his order accepting the nomination paper
of Vidya Stokes. But he did not accept my request and stated
that he would furnish a copy of that order only if demanded by
a Court," Mendiratta said.
"I also raised a question as to on the basis of which
authority Batra had made a statement that Hockey India was not
obliged to follow Policy Guidelines of Ministry and was
prepared to face consequences for not following those
Guidelines for their current elections.”
"In view of the above, I would like to be advised whether
I should continue to be an Observer for elections to the
Hockey India," he said.