Stung by International Olympic Committee's directive to bar charge-sheeted persons from contesting elections, the Indian Olympic Association on Friday wrote to its parent body, saying that it cannot implement the provisions as it has to follow the law of the land.
The IOC had, on Thursday, sent the revised draft Constitution of the IOA, which envisages barring corruption-tainted persons from contesting the IOA elections, and had asked it to revert on Friday if it has any objection or comments.
"To be eligible as an office-bearer or member of the Executive Council, a member must: be a citizen of India; be in full possession of his/her civil rights; not face charges framed against him/her by any court in India, in respect of a criminal or corruption offense which would be punishable with imprisonment if he/she was convicted; not have been convicted of any criminal or corruption offense," the IOC had said.
This provision will effectively mean that officials like Suresh Kalmadi, Lalit Bhanot and V K Verma who were chargesheeted in connection with the alleged 2010 Commonwealth Games scam, will not be able to contest IOA elections.
It is learnt that the IOA sent a letter to the IOC on Friday, pointing out that the law in India does not bar charge-sheeted persons from contesting even parliamentary elections.
"We have written a letter to the IOC in reply to the revised draft, saying that we are bound by the law of the land. We have written that in India, chargesheeted persons can contest even Parliamentary elections," a top IOA official said.
"If chargesheeted persons can contest Parliamentary elections, how can it be that they cannot contest IOA elections. A person is innocent till he is convicted," he added.
Elaborating, he said, "Let us say, we have barred such people from contesting IOA elections and then they go to the court of law which says they can contest elections, what will we do. Should we follow Indian law or IOC's rules in such cases?" he asked.
"We have explained all these to the IOC and we are hoping that a positive outcome will come. The IOC will have to understand that it (IOC) cannot implement something on IOA which is permitted by the Indian law. Otherwise, we will be in trouble again like last year (when IOA was banned for holding elections under court orders)," he said.
The official said that the Extraordinary General Body Meeting on August 25 will decide the issue.
"The IOC has sent the proposals to us. These cannot be final and the House will decide what to do," he said.
Asked about the reduction of votes of National Sports Federations from current three to two and that of state Olympic bodies from two to one, the official said, "We don't know what the IOC wants. The IOC had approved the existing situation last year only.
"The IOC made the proposal last year to reduce these votes of NSFs and state Olympic bodies but it was not accepted in a GBM and we sent back to the IOC informing that it was not agreed upon. The IOC then said it's all right with the existing three and two votes," the official said.
Another official said that these provisions (regarding chargesheeted persons) are not there in the constitutions of other National Olympic Committees.
"We have pointed out to the IOC that these provisions are not in the Constitution of other National Olympic Committees. The IOC Charter also does not have these provisions," the official said.
"How can there be India specific provisions," he asked.
He said that the provisions in the revised draft regarding the charge-sheteed persons run counter to the Copenhagen Congress of the IOC in 2009 which had adopted that the NOCs should respect the law of the land.
"Under Indian law, a person is innocent until convicted by a court of law. If a person is convicted, of course, he will have to quit but not at the stage of chargesheet," he said.
"It seems that all these are done only to target a few people," he added.