Hockey India, Sports Ministry on collision path

Last Updated: Jul 20, 2010, 00:32 AM IST

New Delhi: The government and Hockey India headed for a showdown over interim president Vidya Stokes` eligibility to contest the upcoming elections with the Sports Ministry saying that she was overage while the veteran administrator insisting that such restrictions were not
binding on the sport body.

Stokes` candidature came under scanner after the Sports Ministry today made it clear that the "No Objection" given to the July 28 polls was conditional on abiding the recent age limitation guidelines of the government.

"The age restriction with regard to the President, Secretary General and Treasurer shall be applicable in relation to the present elections," government observer S K Mendiratta said in a letter to Returning Officer Justice R C Chopra.

An angry Stokes promptly hit back, saying that the Hockey India has it own Constitution and election guidelines and even threatened to take legal recourse in case of any interference from the Sports Ministry.

"We are not in agreement with the views as expressed in the letter by Mendiratta as we are a Society formed under the Society`s Registration Act, 1860 and hence having our own Constitution and Election Guidelines on the basis of which the elections are being held.

"In view of the same, we kindly request you to conduct the election in accordance with the Constitution and Election Bye-laws of Hockey India. And in case GOI MYAS initiates any action against our Election then we shall invoke legal remedies as will be adviced," she said in a counter letter to Chopra.

Stokes, who earlier held the post of Indian Women`s Hockey Federation, is above 70 now and as per the government guidelines no official who is 70 or above is eligible to contest the elections.

Former India captain Pargat Singh has also filed nominations for the HI president`s post.

The government, however, clarified that the guideline pertaining to tenure limitation would not apply as it is the first poll of office bearers of Hockey India.

"Obviously, the restriction relating to number of terms of office would not apply in the case of the present election, this being the first election of office bearers of Hockey India," Mendiratta wrote in his letter.

The government observer also said that age declarations of the candidates running for posts of Hockey India president, secretary and treasurer will be thoroughly checked during the scrutiny of nominations tomorrow.

"Declarations from the candidates with regarding to their age qualification, as is applicable in relation to the offices of President, Secretary General and Treasurer, which is maximum of 70 years will be relevant at the time of scrutiny of nominations scheduled to be held tomorrow the 20th July, 2010," Mendiratta said.

PTI