Sports Ministry faces heat over bias in NSFs’ recognitions

Taking note of the Delhi High Court order, the Sports Ministry on Thursday withdrew the annual recognition of all 54 National Sports Federations (NSFs). Notably, this move has put the Sports Minister under the scrutiny for violating the Sports code not applying it uniformly.

As per reports, the ministry has allegedly ignored violations made by certain National Sports Federations and de-recognizing them, particularly those headed by powerful administrators. The Delhi HC order has also put the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) into the spotlight amid the controversy.

Reportedly, the Gymnastics Federation of India has been banned by the ministry after it was revealed that the election of S Shantakumar Singh as the federation’s secretary violated the Sports Code.

Significantly, federations’ recognition was extended by the sports ministry on May 11 until September 30, 2020. The court went on to allege that the ministry, by issuing recognition to the 54 NSFs, has not followed the order issued in February this year requiring both the ministry and the IOA to “inform the court in advance” while taking “any decision in relation to the NSFs.” In view of the latest order by the Delhi HC, the provisional recognition of NSFs has been revoked.

Now, Sports Ministry deputy secretary SPS Tomar sent a letter to all 54 federations saying: “… in compliance of the Order dated 24.06.2020 passed by the Hon’ble Delhi High Court…, the Department’s letter of even number dated 02.06.2020 granting provisional annual recognition of 54 NSFs stands withdrawn.”

While announcing the order, the Delhi High Court maintained that both the ministry and IOA cannot make any decisions for the unrecognized sports federations without taking its consent.

However, media reports have also stated that the ministry is working on filing a fresh application before the court bench to resolve the crisis as soon as possible. An annual process, recognition is granted to sports federations to make them eligible for government funds and support for competitions and training of athletes.

In the wake of the pandemic, events across all sports were suspended by the government to curb the spread of the virus and to safeguard the athletes. As the ministry is working on resuming the sports activities in the country, the court order can potentially hinder the training of the athletes and other key administrative decisions.

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