SK Mendiratta, Government observer to the Hockey India elections, on Tuesday objected to the acceptance of Vidya Stokes's nomination for president's post in violation of Sports Ministry's recent age limitation guideline and hinted that he might resign.
Stokes's nomination for HI president's post was accepted by returning officer Justice R C Chopra, (Retd) despite the Ministry's clear directive while giving the "No Objection" that the election will have to abide by its age limitation guideline.
As per government guidelines, no official who is 70 or above is eligible to contest elections of National Sports Federations. Stokes is 83 now.
In his interim report to the Ministry, Mendiratta said he had brought the issue of overage of Stokes to Justice Chopra but he, instead of following it, went by her representative's claim that the government guideline was inapplicable to the HI elections.
"I met Justice RC Chopra on 17th July when the process of filing of nominations was to conclude on that day. I furnished him with a copy of Ministry's letter about the conditional "No Objection" given to HI for holding their elections subject to the implementation of Ministry's Policy Guidelines relating to age and tenure restrictions," Mendiratta said.
"I stated that it now becomes incumbent on Hockey India to duly observe and implement the said Policy Guidelines in the conduct of their current elections of Office Bearers.
Subsequently, I wrote a formal letter also to him," he said in the letter addressed to joint secretary Injeti Srinivas.
Mendiratta said on being objected by the other candidate for president's post Pargat Singh, Stokes' representative and HI Secretary General Narinder Batra argued that the guideline was not applicable as HI has stopped taking funds from the Ministry.
"Narinder Batra and Hitesh, counsel for Stokes, admitted that Stokes was above the age of 70, but stated elections to Hockey India were to be held in accordance with the Constitution and By-laws of HI, which is a registered society under the Societies Registration Act and that there was no age limit for any office in HI as per its said Constitution and by-laws.
"Both of them categorically made a statement before the returning officer that the Hockey India was not asking for any financial grant or facilities from the Government and, therefore, the Hockey India was not obliged to follow and implement the abovesaid Policy Guidelines of the Government.
"They also submitted that HI was prepared to face the consequences of not following the Government's Policy Guidelines. Taking note of these, returning officer accepted the nomination of Stokes, by passing a speaking order," Mendiratta said in the letter.
The government observer alleged that the returning officer refused to give a copy of his order accepting Stokes's nomination, saying that he would do so only asked by a court.
"I made an oral request to the returning officer for the supply of a copy of his order accepting the nomination paper of Vidya Stokes. But he did not accept my request and stated that he would furnish a copy of that order only if demanded by a Court," Mendiratta said.
"I also raised a question as to on the basis of which authority Batra had made a statement that Hockey India was not obliged to follow Policy Guidelines of Ministry and was prepared to face consequences for not following those Guidelines for their current elections.
"In view of the above, I would like to be advised whether I should continue to be an Observer for elections to the Hockey India," he said.