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Indian hockey headed for another court battle

By Qaiser Mohammad Ali, IANS

New Delhi : The Indian Hockey Federation (IHF) seems to be headed for another round of court battles as the undisclosed results of the 2005 elections are about to be declared.

But the challenger, IHF vice-president Narendra Batra said Thursday that he would move a higher court if the verdict went against him.

The Delhi High Court had ordered votes of the four-yearly elections to be sealed in a box after Batra challenged both the federation president K.P.S. Gill and secretary K. Jyothikumaran for allegedly contravening rules to remain in power.

Batra’s contention was that Gill and Jyothikumaran, having been in the chair for three four-year terms or 12 years in total, were contesting the IHF elections against government rules that stipulate a maximum of two terms.

If Gill and company are declared elected at the 2005 election for the term starting in 2006, they will remain in power for another four years, till 2010.

“If the verdict does not go in my favour, I will go to a higher court (Supreme Court),” Batra told IANS.

“The battle will continue,” he declared at a time when the top brass of the international hockey federation, FIH, is in the city for an executive board meeting.

The FIH has also allotted, albeit provisionally, the 2010 World Cup to Delhi and has completed the paperwork on a unique project to improve Indian hockey, essentially its administration.

When FIH secretary-general Peter Cohen was asked if he was aware of the court case, he said he was but was helpless.

“We are aware of the case, but since the matter is in court we cannot do anything about it,” Cohen told IANS here.

It is gathered that one of the reasons why FIH has not formally allotted the 2010 World Cup is because of the administrative glitches in IHF. Neither FIH nor IHF is however ready to admit this.

Gill and his team have been in power since 1994. Since then Indian hockey has seen more lows than highs. Today, the Indian men’s team is in a do-or-die situation to qualify for the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games.

Winner of eight Olympic golds, India must win the last qualifying tournament in Chile in March to qualify for Beijing — the first time ever that the team has to go through this.

Instead of IHF officials concentrating on the team’s preparations for the March 1-9 tournament in Santiago, Chile, they are waiting to hear what the high court judge has to say.

Batra said the arguments of the case were completed recently and he was now waiting for the judgement. He felt that if Gill lost, he would appeal in a higher court as well.

“If it (judgement) does not go in their favour they would also go to a higher court,” said the man who had contested the elections May 23, 2005, in Kolkata.

The results of the election were never declared as the Delhi High Court had instructed that the votes be sealed in a box pending arguments and, eventually, a judgement.

Jyothikumaran said he too was waiting for the judgement.

“We are not aware of when it is going to come. But, yes, all the arguments are over and we are waiting for a decision,” Jyothikumaran told IANS.

Asked if the 2010 World Cup would be taken away from India if his group was found to have lost the election, Jyothikumaran said: “It is allotted to Indian hockey and it will remain allotted to Indian hockey.”