Hockey India election postponed

M. S. Gill.-PTI

The Hockey India (HI) election has been postponed yet again after the Rajasthan High Court stayed the affiliation granted to the state units. It is unlikely that an elected national body will be in office before the Feb 28-Mar 13 World Cup, as mandated by the International Hockey Federation (FIH).

An HI statement said that it had come to the conclusion that no election could be held till the Rajasthan High Court takes a final decision.

HI referred the matter to the Indian Olympic Association-appointed observer G. S Mander, who, after taking legal advice, has directed HI to defer the elections till the final decision is taken by the Rajasthan High Court, because the entire electoral college of HI has been stayed.

“The court has stayed the operation of the minutes of the meeting of Jan 11 in which 30 States/Union Territories and 4 Institutional/Boards were granted affiliation,” HI said in a statement.

“We are interested to hold the election before the World Cup. But, to talk honestly after all these developments, we will have to wait and see. The issue is in court now and we have informed FIH and IOA. We have informed both the parties,” HI Secretary Narinder Batra told IANS.

Batra, however, said that the preparation for the World Cup will continue in full swing.

“This matter is only pertaining to the election. It will not affect the preparations for the World Cup.”

Former Rajasthan Hockey Association (RHA) president Rajkumar Jaipal pleaded with the court that their association had been in existence for over six decades and it has the recognition of the state government as it has been formed under the state sports act. RHA challenged the affiliation given to a newly formed ad-hoc body on Jan 11.

Interestingly, Jaipal was in the HI affiliation committee and is a signatory to the units granted affiliation before Jan 11.

An HI source said the fresh notice for the election will have to be issued after the judgement in the court case and even if it happens soon, then the elected body would be in place barely a week or so before the World Cup, thus giving no time to the new office-bearers to get involved in the conduct of the World Cup.

It is now clear that the IOA-appointed HI will be involved in the World Cup.

Both the FIH appointed observer Antonio Von Ondarza and government appointed observer S. K. Mendiratta were present at the meeting of Jan 11.

HI is facing a similar problem in other state associations also. For instance the 75-year-old Mumbai association has been ignored and a Pune-based Maharashtra Hockey Association was granted affiliation on the pretext of one-state-one-unit rule of HI.

The nomination process for the election was to run Jan 23-30.

Meanwhile, Union Minister of Youth Affairs and Sports M. S.Gill called for free, fair and transparent election of Hockey India after the postponement.

Gill expressed his views about various aspects of the game, as he formally inaugurated the renovated and spruced-up Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium in New Delhi on Jan 24.

“There are some issues in the High Court and I heard about the cases going on in Delhi and Rajasthan High Courts and the Sports Ministry’s stance will be very clear before the court that we want to see the benefit of the game in the country and the players. Elections should be free, fair and transparent. We will accept whatever the court decides,” Gill told reporters.