The Delhi High Court has appointed Olympic gold medallist Abhinav Bindra and former hockey player M M Somaya to a committee overseeing the disbursement of funds to sports federations for selecting teams to represent the country in the Asian Games.
The court ordered the committee to ensure that the money is spent solely on sportspersons and their training. It also made it clear that government funds should be allocated for sportspersons’ training and travel, arranging coaches for them, procuring necessary equipment, and availing services like physiotherapy.
“The government money will not be spent on office bearers of the sports federations who are not concerned with the sportspersons,” a bench of Chief Justice Satish Chandra Sharma and Justice Subramonium Prasad said.
The bench passed the order while modifying its June 3, 2022, ruling, in which the court had directed the Centre not to provide money or assistance to those national sports federations (NSFs) which were not functioning in compliance with the laws concerning the administration of sports in the country.
“To ensure that sports personnel are also included in the process of disbursement of funds so that the funds released by the government goes only for the purpose of betterment of sportsmen, their training and to ensure that a good team is sent to represent the country for the Asian Games, this court deems it expedient to modify the order dated June 3, 2022 by which this court had directed that the government monies should not be spent on any national sports federation,” the high court said.
The order was passed on a petition by senior advocate Rahul Mehra to ensure compliance with the National Sports Code by the NSFs.
He has challenged the government decisions from October 2020 renewing the recognition of several sports federations even though they were allegedly not in compliance with the National Sports Development Code of India, 2011.
At present, the committee which is overseeing the disbursement of funds to the various sports federations consists of the secretary of the Department of Sports, director general of the Sports Authority of India and the joint secretary of the Department of Sports.
In its April 25 order, the high court appointed Abhinav Bindra and M M Somaya as members of the committee.
“The committee will, therefore, have five members and shall oversee the disbursement of funds to the various sports federations for the purpose of selecting Indian teams for various disciplines to represent the country in Asian Games which are to be held in Hangzhou, China from September 23, 2023 to October 8, 2023,” the bench said, and listed the matter for further hearing on May 30.
Meanwhile, on Monday, Mehra mentioned before the bench an application seeking to direct the Centre to take steps and ensure that the presidents of the National Rifle Association of India (NRAI) and the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) demit their offices immediately as they have already completed their maximum 12-year tenure, in the pending petition.
He also sought a direction to the Centre to take steps to suspend and thereafter de-recognise the NRAI and the WFI if their presidents do not demit their offices at once, or in any event, in a time-bound manner.
The application is likely to come up for hearing on May 4.