New Delhi: The Supreme Court Friday issued notice to the central government on a plea by the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) challenging the enforcement of the National Sports Code (NSC) which prescribes the age and tenure of its office bearers as well as of the other national sports federations.
A bench of Justice Kurian Joseph and Justice C. Nagappan issued notice on the plea of IOA challenging the May 9, 2014 verdict of Delhi High Court upholding the code limiting the tenure of the office bears of the IOA and sports federations.
Appearing for the IOA, senior counsel Gopal Subramanium contested the validity of the NSC saying that the central government had no power to frame law on the matters relating to sports as it came under the state list of subjects in the constitution of India.
Subramanium told the court that IOA has incorporated in its rules some of the provisions of the NSC that prevented the people continuing as office bearers of the NSF in "perpetuity" but other provisions of the code could not be enforced on the national sports body as it affected their autonomy.
Making an offer, he told the court to ask the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to appoint a committee of three eminent international sportspersons who have excelled in Olympics to looking into the working of IOA and other NSF and suggest measure for improving their functioning.
Subramanium said that the sports bodies too were seeking excellence in sports and were not oblivious of the prevailing state of sports excellence in the country.
The Delhi High Court while holding that NSC was neither arbitrary nor violated any freedom guaranteed under the constitution, had said: "The central government can insist upon adherence to these provisions (sports code), without the aid of legislation."
It had held that "the tenure restrictions impugned in this case can and are insisted upon as part of the public interest in efficient and fair administration of such NSFs".
The National Sports Development Code 2011 restricted the tenure of the president, secretary, treasurer and other office bearers to 12 years and eight years and fixed 70 years as an upper limit for a person to be an office bearer.
Subramanium drew the attention of the court to that part of judgment which said, "Sport administration, the way it is run in India, through coterie, cabals, manipulations and intrigues, seems to discourage a vast majority of the population to devote itself to athletics, shooting, judo, table tennis, gymnastics, soccer, boking, fencing and the like".
The court declined to interfere with this, saying that it was not directed that the petitioner IOA.
"It is not open to you," the court observed as Subramanium told the court that "judicial restraint is more powerful than judicial eloquence".