HC asks Centre to show 41 NSFs granted recognition complying with sports code

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New Delhi, Nov 6 (PTI) The Delhi High Court Friday asked the Centre to show that the 41 NSFs granted recognition in October were complying with the requirements of the National Sports Development Code of India, 2011.

The direction by a special bench of Justices Hima Kohli and Najmi Waziri was issued on a plea challenging the recognition granted to the 41 National Sports Federations (NSFs).

The court said it was not issuing notice on the petition, filed by lawyer and sports activist Rahul Mehra claiming 'abject inaction' by the Centre with regard to alleged maladministration of NSFs and the Indian Olympic Association (IOA). With the direction, the bench listed the matter for hearing on January 8, 2021. The bench said it was not issuing notice to the ministry in the instant petition as the issue with regard to implementation of the sports code and recognition of NSFs was being examined by the court in another petition filed by Mehra in 2010.

Mehra contended that he filed the petition challenging the recognition granted to the NSFs as filing an application for the same relief in the earlier petition would lead to enlarging the scope of that matter.

He also contended that none of the NSFs which have been granted recognition have complied with the sports code.

The ministry, represented by central government standing counsel Anil Soni, told the bench that the government has the discretion to decide whether or not to grant recognition.

To this the court responded that if such discretion is available under the sports code, then only the government can exercise it.

The bench said the Supreme Court has on several occasions held that recognition cannot be granted to a NSF which is not complying with the sports code.

The court directed the ministry to show that each of the 41 NSFs, which were granted recognition, have complied with every requirement of the sports code as these bodies are funded by public money.

The court also asked the ministry to place before it the responses received from the NSFs to the letter issued to them by the ministry in August asking them to show whether they have complied with the sports code.

Mehra, in his instant petition, has contended that the decision granting recognition to the 41 NSFs is contrary to the National Sports Development Code of India, 2011 (sports code), and 'issued in a wholly arbitrary manner'.

He has also contended that the Sports Ministry has failed to take appropriate action against the NSFs which are in violation of the sports code.

The plea, filed through advocate Chaitanya Gosain, has said the ministry granted recognition to the 41 NSFs, after the Supreme Court clarified that it does not need prior approval of the high court to take any decisions.

The Supreme Court's September 17 order had come on the ministry's appeal against a February 7 order of the high court, in Mehra's 2010 petition, directing that it be informed in advance by the government and IOA before taking any decision in respect of any NSF.

Subsequently, in October the ministry granted recognition to 41 NSFs, 'including those that were refused recognition up to December 31, 2019 for being in violation of the sports code, and who were in violation thereof even on July 31, 2020', the plea said.

The petition has claimed that the ministry spent nearly Rs 14,391.49 crore on sporting activities from 2009-10 to 2018-19, and nearly Rs 1,237.56 crore has been disbursed directly to NSFs, including IOA from 2009-10 to 2019-20 on the explicit, statutory understanding that they will comply with the sports code.

'Thus, (alleged) maladministration of the NSFs, including IOA, and inaction by the respondent (ministry) in this regard also concerns public monies and the reputation of India,' the petition has contended. PTI HMP SA

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