Delhi HC appoints former Karnataka HC judge as Basketball Federation of India administrator

The Delhi High Court has appointed former Karnataka High Court judge P Krishna Bhat as the administrator of the Basketball Federation of India (BFI) with immediate effect for conducting elections in the body.

Justice Purushaindra Kumar Kaurav said the administrator shall function till a newly-elected body takes charge of BFI and asked him to ensure conclusion of the election process at the earliest according to the Sports Code.

The court’s order came on a batch of petitions concerning the election of the office bearers and members of the executive committee of BFI for the term 2023-2027.

“Hon’ble Mr. Justice P. Krishna Bhat, the former judge of the High Court of Karnataka is appointed as an Administrator of BFI with immediate effect,” said the court in its order passed on May 2.

“The Administrator shall function till the newly elected body takes over the charge of BFI. There shall be an endeavour to conclude the election process at the earliest,” it said.

The petitioners including Pondicherry Basketball Association told the high court they were aggrieved by the “illegal” and “improper” rejection of the nominations of several contesting parties by the returning officer on “hyper-technical grounds”.

It was also said that the returning officer on February 13 declared that the remaining contesting candidates were all deemed to be declared as duly elected unopposed to various posts in BFI.

While directing the administrator to take charge of BFI, Justice Kaurav set aside the rejection of nomination forms for being based on “insignificant and flimsy” reasons and and also set aside the declaration of result.

The court stated the new election process will continue from the stage of submission of nomination forms after treating the rejected nomination forms as valid and the administrator may even appoint a new returning officer (RO).

“The Administrator shall decide whether, the present RO should continue to conduct the election or has to be replaced by another RO. The Administrator shall be at liberty to appoint another RO as he may deem appropriate. The Administrator shall take all steps as may be necessary to conduct the elections of BFI in accordance with the Sports Code and MEG (Model Election Guidelines),” said the court.

“The election process, however, will continue from the stage of submission of nomination forms after treating the rejected nomination forms as valid,” it added.

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The court asked the Centre and the BFI to ensure compliance of this order and to render all assistance and cooperation to the administrator.

The court observed that the elections of all national sports federations are to be held in a democratic manner and should be governed by clear, fair and transparent rules and in the present case, “the rejection of the nomination forms would invariably lead to the exclusion of the participation of a large number of State representatives”, which cannot be approved.

“It is to be noted that there were a total of 30 nomination forms which were submitted by different candidates. Out of 30 nominations, 15 nominations have been rejected only on the above-detailed singular ground. Out of remaining 15 nominations, 05 candidates withdrew their nominations and there was no contest for electing office-bearers of respondent-BFI which is a national level Sports Federation. 27 members of electoral college are against the manner in which the candidates have been selected,” the court noted.

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