The government on Wednesday stepped in to sort out the dispute surrounding implementation of the Sports Code in the upcoming Indian Olympic Association elections by seeking a meeting with the International Olympic Committee.
In response to the IOC's letter, dated November 15, which directed the IOA to "exclusively" apply the Olympic Charter and the IOA constitution, the sports ministry shot off a letter to the world body saying that it has been "misinformed" about the Sports Code.
The ministry said the Sports Code was not meant for government interference but rather aimed at ensuring free and fair elections in the IOA and National Sports Federations in consonance with the Olympic Charter.
"The letter (of the IOC to IOA) seems to imply that implementation of the provisions of Sports Code of government of India will amount to government interference in IOA affairs. The letter seems to have been written on the basis of misinterpretation or lack on information about the provisions of Sports Code," said the letter, written by Sports secretary P K Deb, to IOC chief Jacques Rogge.
"... the Government of India has no intentions whatsoever to interfere in the functioning of IOA. All that the Sports Code seeks to achieve is to ensure that the elections of the IOA and other sports bodies are fair, transparent and in consonance with the the Olympic Charter," it said.
The ministry sought a meeting with IOC representatives, in India, and said the upcoming elections to the IOA should be postponed to a future date.
"The government would be extremely happy to discuss issues of good governance and fair election processes with the IOC. I am sure once such a meeting takes place the IOC itself will appreciate the principle behind this Sports Code," said the letter, copies of which were marked for IOA acting president V K Malhotra.
"May I request IOC to kindly consider a meeting in India with the representatives of Sports Minsitry and perhaps the IOA to sort out the issues involved. If you agree to such a meeting, could we request the elections to the IOA be held only after an attempt is made the sort out the issues mutually," the letter said.
The Ministry said that the issue was less about the Sports Code and more about the failure of the IOA to adhere to the principles of good governance and failure to amend its constitution to bring in line with the Olympic Charter.
"The code in fact enshrines the principles contained in the Olymnpic Charter and that is why even the courts of law in India have endorsed the Code.
"In this connection, may I draw your attention to the discussions that were held at Lausanne on 18th June 2010 followed by the assurance by IOC vide your letter dated August 10, 2010 that IOA is complying with the commitments it made in the meeting in Lausanne. As a matter of fact, IOA did not fulfil its commitments and did nor amend its constitution in accordance with even the draft vetted by IOC.
"It is the failure of the IOA to bring any provisions which ensures transparency and good governance that had led to the conflict with the courts in India," the letter said.
The IOA elections have been mired in controversy on the issue of under which framework these will be held.
The Delhi high court, in response to a petition filed by a lawyer, had ordered that the elections be held under the Sports Code of the government as well as the constitution, rules/byelaws of the IOA.
The three-member Election Commisssion appointed by the IOA had notified that the elections would be held under the Sports Code. The IOC rejected the Election Commisssion's decision and shot off a letter directing the IOA that the elections must be held "exclusively" under the Olympic Charter and IOA constitution.
This led to the Election Commisssion chairman S Y Quarishi resigning and Justice (retd) Anil Dev Singh being appointed in his place.
The nomination process for the elections has been completed though scrutiny is yet to be done.