New Delhi: The Government suffered a major
jolt when the Supreme Court on Tuesday rejected its claim over the
control of the national game and allowed Hockey India (HI) and
the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) to send the women`s team
to participate in the World Cup in Argentina starting August
"The HI and IOA are permitted to send women`s team to
participate at the women`s World Cup in Argentina," a Bench
comprising Justices R V Raveendran and H K Gohkle said.
The Bench passed the order after the Sports Ministry
failed to produce any written communication to buttress that
the International Hockey Federation (FIH) recognised it to
send the team for World Cup to be held in Rosario, Argentina.
HI succeeded in placing before the apex court a
communication by the FIH, which said that it only recognises
HI to represent Indian team in international event.
Webb Roger, the acting Director General of FIH, in the
communication had made it clear that HI can only send a team
to participate in the women`s World Cup.
The apex court noted that the players who have been
selected for participation in the World Cup by the HI and the
IOA are the same as identified and selected by the Sports
Authority of India.
While passing the order, the Bench made it clear that
"this is a temporary arrangement as the team has to be sent to
Argentina by August 21" for country`s participation in the
The court did not accept the plea of the Ministry that
some more time be granted to explain the factual position
about the composition of the team.
To break the deadlock, the Bench had given opportunity
to the Ministry to place before it by way of memo that there
was an assurance that the team sent by it for the World Cup
would be accepted by the organisers in Argentina.
However, after an hour, its counsel, who was asked to
take instruction in this regard, placed before the Bench a
hurriedly prepared document, which only said that the
government has discussed the whole affairs with FIH and was
assured of the team`s participation in the World Cup.
But this did not satisfy the Bench, which gave credence
to the e-mail communication received by HI from FIH,
recognising it as the sole body for hockey in India.
"You (Ministry) produce the written communication (from
the FIH)," the Bench said, adding that it has not produced any
document in support of its claim to represent Indian hockey.
The apex court passed on the petition which was moved by
Hockey India challenging the government decision revoking
recognition to it for allegedly flouting guidelines relating
to age and tenure of officials.
The Ministry had contended that since HI was a `private
body` it could not be authorised to select the team for
representing India in the world cup.
The Bench wanted to know how a private body was not
entitled to represent the sports at the international arena
and made a reference of cricket where Board of Control for
Cricket in India (BCCI) being a private body was representing
"Is HI different from BCCI. How BCCI is permitted to
send Indian team," the Bench asked the counsel for the
Ministry who said that aspect was also being looked into by
It also noted that the Government itself had earlier
given provisional recognition to the HI till December 2010.
From the beginning, the Bench was concerned as to how
under such circumstance, the team would participate in the
"What will happen to the team. How will it go. Will
the international body (FIH) accept the team only on the
ground that it is our national and internal matter," the Bench
observed during the hearing.
Senior advocate Ashok Desai, appearing for the HI
submitted that uncertainty is prevailing on the participation
of Indian Women`s hockey team in world championship following
the withdrawal of recognition to it by the government.
The Ministry had claimed that it was recognised by the
FIH to send the team for the women`s world cup.
IOA through senior counsel Indu Malhotra supported the HI
and submitted that the Ministry was presenting a factually
wrong picture and asked the Bench to consider HI for sending
the team as it was recognised by the FIH.
It said that if a decision was not taken urgently, it
would be a national shame as Indian women team which has
qualified in last 12 after eight years would be deprived to
participate in the world cup.
The Indian Hockey Federation, through advocate D J S
Narula, also intervended in the matter and submitted that it
is a recognised body for sending Indian team to take part in
international events, but the plea was opposed by the HI.
The HI has also sought revocation of a letter written
by government to the International Hockey Federation about its
decision that HI is not a recognised body.
The letter written by the government to the IHF on
August 9 had said "Hockey India has lost the national
The government had derecognised the HI on the ground
that it is a private body which cannot represent the Indian
The court wanted to know from the government counsel
as to how HI was different from the Board of Cricket Control
in India (BCCI).
HI has consistently been maintaining that it is the
only recognised body for India by the International Hockey
The Delhi High Court had on May 21 held that the HI
was a private body and restrained it from holding election for
its office bearers. However, the apex court had later allowed
the conduct of election.