The journey of Narinder Dhruv Batra as an Indian sports administrator came a full circle on Wednesday with his announcement that he would not seek a re-election as IOA president and concentrate on his role with the FIH.
While the announcement came as a surprise, it quickly became apparent that there was more than one reason for it. Moments before, the Delhi High Court had formed a three-member committee to administer the affairs of Hockey India as the sport finds itself yet again, more than 12 years and innumerable developments both on and off the field later, without a federation.
While Batra was removed as IOA president, senior vice president Anil Khanna took over as acting chief.
The bench of Justice Najmi Waziri and Justice Swarankanta Sharma also set aside the election of the Executive Committee, did away with the posts of Life Member/President for being in contravention of the National Sports Development Code and sought enquiry into all appointments made/accrued as a result.
While the terms of power and responsibility for the CoA – comprising Justice (Retd.) Anil Dave, former CEC S.Y. Quraishi and Zafar Iqbal – are similar to that of the one formed for the AIFF last week, it has also been asked to look into the continuance of appointment of Elena Norman as CEO and curtailing CEO’s powers to that of an employee. The court also ordered the CoA to determine and recover any expenditure on such posts from Hockey India and Batra.
The decision came in a case filed by former India star Aslam Sher Khan in 2020 challenging the posts of Life Members and CEO as illegal. But the repercussions may be felt far and wide with the whole business of ‘Life Members’ across sports now in question.
In a way, it is also the culmination of journeys of both the protagonists of the entire affair.
Batra had raised the banner of protest against Late K. P. S. Gill that led to the formation of Hockey India in the first place in 2009 with Aslam Sher Khan as the first chairman of the interim ad-hoc body.
Batra had become IOA president in 2017 but re-elections due in December 2021 had been postponed. It’s early days yet but his continuation as FIH president, however, will also be in the spotlight now given that he was nominated as India representative but the HI executive committee has now been deemed illegal.