New Delhi: The ongoing tussle between two associations over control of the national game has drawn the attention of the Supreme Court which on Wednesday expressed fear that Indian hockey team may lose its chance to participate in the Commonwealth Games as the team was not yet selected.
“If entry is not made, India will lose a chance to participate in hockey event in Commonwealth Games,” a Bench comprising Justices R V Raveendran and H L Gokhle said.
The remarks of the Bench came when it was informed that the team for both men and women hockey for the games was required to be selected by August 27 as the deadline for making entry is September 3.
“A team should have been put in place and by now they should have time for training,” the Bench observed.
The Bench noted that there was great urgency for selection of men and women team for Commonwealth Games and asked the Solicitor General Gopal Subramanium to take instruction from Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports in this regard and posted the matter for further hearing in August 27.
Indian Hockey Federation (IHF) and Hockey India (HI) are locked in a battle for controlling Indian Hockey with both of them claiming to have recognition from the International Hockey Federation (FIH) for nominating team for participation in international sport events.
The apex court on August 17, in an interim order, had rejected Government’s claim and allowed Hockey India (HI) and the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) to send women’s team to participate in the World Cup in Argentina.
The Bench had passed the order after Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports failed to produce any written communication to buttress that the International Hockey Federation (FIH) recognised it for sending the team for world cup beginning on August 26.
HI had succeeded in placing before it 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 only HI can send a team to participate in the Women’s World Championship.
However, when the matter was taken on Wednesday, Solicitor General said the Government has taken steps that only IHF was recognised body. “We have asked the IHF to represent to the international body (FIH), he said.
The court, which noted that IHF was reconised by the Ministry till December 30, 2010, wanted to know from it how it has recognised the IHF unconditionally.
Subramanium said “we are hopeful that IHF will convince the world body”.
However, when the Bench asked what will be the stand of the Government if IHF fails in its endeavour to convince the world body, the Solicitor General said in that case some decision will have to be taken.
Senior advocate Ashok Desai, appearing for the HI, submitted that the IHF was not recognised by the FIH and the Ministry’s documents itself suggest that amalgamation of the IHF and Indian Women’s Hockey Federation will take 8 to 12 weeks and in this scenario nobody can wait till international body recognises it.
He said teams for Commonwealth Games has to be selected by August 28.
“If you are holding Games in October and the FIH denies permission, we will be in a position that our country will not have a team,” the Bench observed.
At this point, the Solicitor General sought time from the court for seeking instruction from the Ministry.
The Indian Olympic Association, which is supporting the stand of HI, said that national federation must be affiliated to the international body for selecting the team and IHF is not yet recognised.
The apex court was hearing the petition moved by the Hockey India challenging the government decision revoking recognition to it for 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.
The Ministry had claimed that IHF was recognised by the FIH to send the team for the women’s world cup.
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 character”.
HI has consistently been maintaining that it is the only recognised body for India by the International Hockey Federation.
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.