Sports Administration Not A Male Preserve, Women Presence In Sporting World Must Be Acknowledged: Delhi High Court

The Delhi High Court has found that women’s participation in sporting events and their victories are as much a matter of pride and joy as the victories of their male counterparts, and has stated that the significant presence of women in the sporting world must be recognised .

The Court made the remark, noting that the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) has never had a woman as President or Secretary General in all its 95 years of existence.

While the court added that sports administration is “not a male domain,” the court went on to say that women aspire to occupy key positions in the decision-making process and that their representation on both the General Assembly and the Electoral Commission of the IOA will become the ” fulfillment of their legitimate aspirations”.

Accordingly, the court ordered that women should make up half of the category of athletes with voting rights in the General Assembly as well as in the IOA’s Electoral Commission.

“The specific representation of women on governing bodies is a requirement under Section 2.4 of the IOC’s Code of Ethics. Women make up about 50% of the country’s population. Their number in sports activities is increasing day by day “Indian contingent in the Olympic Games and other international sporting events is on an equal footing with men”, said the court.

It added “Their participation in such events and the celebration of their victories is as much a matter of pride and joy as the victories of their male colleagues. There is every reason to recognize the significant presence of women in the sporting world. Sports administration is not a male reserve.”

A departmental bank consisting of Judge Najmi Waziri and Judge Manmohan addressed a 2010 petition filed by Senior Advocate Rahul Mehra, calling for strict compliance by the IOA and the National Sports Federations (NSFs) with the Sports Code and related court rules.

The plea also sought the suspension or revocation of recognition of defaulting NSFs and that benefits provided to such non-compliant NSFs not be resumed until the establishment and administration of the IOA or NSF is brought into compliance with the Sports Code.

Note that the Sports Code must be read as an activation code and not as a restrictive document The court found that athletes best represent the concerns of players and would benefit the administration of an NSF with their experience and knowledge.

“Therefore, their inclusion in the General Assembly and in the EC would reinforce the objectives of the Sport Code,‘ the court said.

It also added that the number of athletes with voting rights on the General Body should be at least equal to the number of NSFs representing Olympic sports.

“This category must have an equal number of women and men. If necessary, on a rotating basis for each consecutive term,‘ the court said.

The court has placed the affairs of the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) in the hands of a Administrative Committee (CoA) in accordance with a recent Supreme Court ruling.

The court also held that all NSFs that comply with the Sporting Code and represent Olympic sports automatically qualify for IOA membership once the formalities are completed.

Noting that there can be no place for a permanent position in an NSF or the IOA, the Court struck down the position of Life President and any such permanent position for a person in the IOA as illegal.

The Court also considered the aspect of the IOA Statutes which stipulated in Clause 10.1 that NSFs representing the sport must have three representatives, each with one vote, which they are entitled to, at the IOA’s Annual General Meetings and Special General Meetings to deliver.

The Court ruled that voting and election results are recognized only in relation to the Sport Act and that the continuation of the said provisions in the IOA Constitution barred them from government recognition.

The court also held that NSFs (including the IOA) must comply with model election guidelines and that the IOA constitution must also comply with them “or risk derecognition”.

‘Legal regime for sports administration must be fully implemented’: Delhi High Court places Indian Olympic Association under CoA


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