The Indian Olympic Association has termed the government's directive to adhere to age and tenure guidelines in its upcoming elections as "illegal" and "unconstitutional" and said that it could even move the Supreme Court if the case in Delhi High Court goes against it.
Addressing a press conference after IOA's Executive Board Meeting in Delhi on Monday, acting president V K Malhotra accused the government of trying to force the age and tenure guidelines without the backing of a law.
"Where is the law for IOA to implement these guidelines? There is no Act of Parliament. We have filed a case in Delhi High Court against the Sports Ministry's guidelines, saying that these are illegal and unconstitutional. The high court had issued notices and hearing is coming up on October 15," Malhotra said.
"The government had sought to portray that the high court had directed the IOA to adhere to these guidelines. It's not like that. The court had simply said that the IOA can hold elections by taking into account its rules, byelaws and decision of government courts.
"What the high court said is a bit contradictory and we will fight out our case till the end. But, the court had also said that it (the high court observation) can also be changed later on. Besides, the International Olympic Committee can even derecognise India if the government forces these guidelines on us," he said.
Asked what the IOA would do if the Delhi High Court decision goes against it, he said, "We have the option to ask the high court to review the decision or we can go to the Supreme Court, we will decide. But the government should not propagate wrong information and create a myth."
"The IOC had sought information on two issues only -- election date and voting right majority of the NSFs whose sports are in Olympic programme. The observer issue was not among those on which the IOC had directed to respond," he said.
"We have already written to the IOC, why we were being singled out for sending election observer. These observers are not sent to other countries," he said.
When reminded that the IOC had decided to send the observer as the IOA had not cleared its stand on the status of Suresh Kalmadi who was first jailed but later released on bail on Commonwealth Games corruption scandal, Malhotra said, "We have written to IOC on this issue (on Kalmadi). We have made our stand clear.
"Kalmadi himself has said that he would not be involved in the day-to-day affair of the IOA in forseeable future. I don't know why this Kalmadi issue suddenly came up," said Malhotra.
He, however, said that the IOA cannot afford to be in conflict with the IOC and it wants a cordial relation with its parent body.
"We cannot be in conflict with the IOC. We want a perfect relation with the IOC and we appreciate the concerns raised by them. Our endeavour is to take Olympic sports forward in the country with the help of the IOC," he said.
Malhotra also made it clear that IOA would not follow the age and tenure guidelines of the government in its elections.
"We have already said that the age and tenure guidelines of the sports ministry will not apply in the IOA. We follow IOC rules and guidelines.
"When this issue came up, we had sought the advice from IOC which had supported us. The IOC had said that governments cannot interfere in the functioning of the National Olympic Committees. The IOC had given the example of Kuwait which had been derecognised after its government interfered in the functioning of the NOC," he said.
Malhotra said that Union Cabinet had shot down the National Sports Draft Bill which had these age and tenure guidelines.
"When the Bill went in the Union Cabinet, everybody knows it was shot down there. We had even met the Prime Minister and explained the matter that the IOC can even derecognised us if the government forces us on these age and tenure guidelines," he said.
Malhotra also informed that the IOA Executive Board approved the recommendations of a three-man Special Committee appointed by it that Hockey India, and not the Indian Hockey Federation, should run the game in the country.
He refused to answer questions on the controversy surrounding the elections to the Archery Association of India of which he is the president.
Following a Delhi High Court directive to hold elections as per National Sports Development Code, which renders 80-year-old Malhotra ineligible to fight the poll for presidency, the AAI had postponed the elections to October 28.
"I have nothing to say. Let's wait what happens on October 28," he said.
Malhotra also said that the IOA Executive Board did not discuss the election of the office bearers of the Indian Boxing Federation yesterday.
Rajasthan BJP MLA Abhishek Matoria was yesterday elected President of the IBF, replacing Abhay Singh Chautala, who was handed the nominated post of chairman at its Annual General Meeting in New Delhi.
The Sports Ministry had barred the IBF from making constitutional changes that could have facilitated continuation of the earlier set of office-bearers.