Allowing the plea of 2004 Olympics silver medallist shooter Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore, the Delhi High Court on Wednesday ordered the National Rifle Association of India (NRAI) to hold elections within eight weeks for four members from the category of life members in the Wild Life Association.
Accepting Rathore's allegation that he was deprived of an opportunity to contest the elections for the sports body as the NRAI had nominated eight members including four in the Wild Life Association (WLA), a bench of justices S Ravindra Bhat and Najmi Waziri upheld the single judge's order setting aside the nomination of its members.
Rathore's counsel Maninder Singh said, "Although the single judge had quashed the four other annual members for Shooter Association, the bench did not pass any order as no one challenged the nomination."
"The court also allowed 36 office bearers, who were elected on April 6 for various posts of NRAI, to assume their office," he said.
"As per the court order, in case Rathore wins the election and he wants to contest for the post of any office bearer, then NRAI has to conduct a fresh election of those 36 members," Singh said.
The single judge in April had allowed the plea of Rathore challenging the nomination of four members to Wild Life Association and said, "No election which has been held after depriving the persons desirous of contesting the chance to contest can be held to be a valid election and cannot be given any recognition.
"... that the nomination, instead of election, of eight members of the NRAI's General Body be declared as "nullity".
NRAI's then president had nominated eight members to Wild Life Association (4) and Shooters Association (4) for its general body.
The court had also restrained NRAI permanently from giving effect to the elections held on April 6, 2013 saying, "The eight nominated members formed part of the governing body of NRAI and this undemocratic process had dashed Rathore's hope to gain entry into the governing body Rifle association..."
"The fact that the plaintiff (Rathore) would not have succeeded even if he had contested because he was in the minority section of the life members was no justification for denying him the opportunity to avail of his legal right to contest the election," it said adding the nomination procedure was "totally undemocratic and unfair".
Allowing Rathore's plea, the single judge had said, "In fact, under the Rules and Regulations of NRAI there is no provision that elections to elect four representatives each from the Life Members and Annual Members of NRAI to become a part of its General Body can be dispensed with even by the Governing Body of NRAI."
The decision taken by the President of NRAI "to get himself authorised to nominate people of his own choice was thus clearly aimed at denying the members desirous of contesting the election the opportunity to avail of their right to contest the election which right every member of such like Associations has where democratic functioning is sacrosanct".
NRAI has a general body comprising of four representatives from its life members of its unit called 'Wild Life Association of India' and four representatives of annual members of another unit called 'Shooters Association of India'.
NRAI selects teams or contingents for international shooting competitions.
Image: Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore
Photograph: Caren Firouz/Reuters