Friday, January 8, 2010

FIH gives Hockey India a head-butt

By Biswajyoti Brahma

NEW DELHI: Hockey India (HI), which came up with some shocking proposals in its modified draft on election by-laws, was on Thursday forced to fall in line by the sports ministry and the international hockey federation (FIH).
The election process of Hockey India would have turned into a sham had HI been allowed to get away with its proposals.
In fact, both the ministry and FIH, pressing for a free, fair and transparent elections on January 29, reacted after realising that the "democratic process would be compromised".
HI sent its first draft on January 1 and then a revised version on January 4 to SK Mendiratta, election observer for HI elections.
In fact, the covering letter even tried to dilute the role of Mendiratta, a well-known legal expert, by telling him that he can be a mere "witness" to the elections.
While the earlier draft provided for the election of office bearers and executive board members by a secret ballot, the revised draft "diluted its own provisions" by allowing the general council to decide on the mode of election.
There were several other proposals which did not go down well with both the ministry and FIH. In fact, both had written letters to HI in the last couple of days seeking clarification over the issue. "I have an apprehension that the constitution lodged for registration may have been changed from the draft (I prepared) which was approved by FIH. The only way to resolve this is to go by the constitution that was approved by the Indian authorities (govt)," FIH’s vice president Antonio Von Ondarza wrote in a letter to HI, quoting FIH secretary Peter Cohen.
FIH specifically asked HI to delete certain proposals including the one on who can vote in the elections. It was also unhappy that no timeframe was given to the units to intimate the names of their representatives to the HI president.
FIH wrote: "I suggest that the rule should be deleted. It seems to me that any representative who is validly nominated by his/her state and is present should be eligible to vote."
The ministry on its part also raised several objections. "The schedule relating to the notification of the electoral college and submission of a duly authenticated copy of the same to the returning officer has also been omitted in the revised draft. Similarly, the provisions relating to scrutiny of nominations, poll, counting of votes etc have been omitted," it said in a letter to HI.
"...At the cost of repetition, I would like to reiterate that any dilution in the election process, which could adversely (affect) its fairness and transparency, would be unacceptable to the government.
"While we fully appreciate the autonomy of sporting bodies, we are equally of the view that it does not exempt the national governing body of any sport from the principles of public accountability, transparency and fair elections."
The letter further states: "At this juncture, I would only like to state that the revised draft sent by you now, which is at total variance from the first draft you had sent to FIH, is not at all acceptable to the government because it goes back on its own principles and dilutes the entire election process."
The strong-worded letter from the ministry seems to have had its effect on HI, which on Thursday is believed to have indicated that it would go by the election process laid down by Mendiratta.

The Times of India