The Sports Ministry has taken a significant step by immediately suspending the Paralympic Committee of India (PCI) due to its failure to hold timely elections and non-adherence to the set guidelines.
In the suspension order issued on Saturday, the Sports Ministry noted that the Executive Committee of PCI concluded on January 31. Despite the last elections being held in September 2019, the results were not declared due to a court order staying the election notification and restraining the returning officer from announcing the results. This led to the Executive Committee's term ending without the election results being finalized.
The Delhi High Court, in its order dated January 27, 2020, in WP No 10647/2019, permitted the announcement of election results that were initially notified on September 3, 2019, with the condition that further orders in the petition would be considered. Following the court's directive, the Returning Officer declared the election results on January 31, 2020. Consequently, the Ministry stated that the four-year term of the PCI's Executive Committee concluded on January 31,2024.
The Ministry also stated that the election for establishing a new committee ought to have taken place prior to the specified time "expiry of the term of the previous Executive Committee."
The organization also mentioned that the forthcoming elections to establish a new committee are scheduled to take place on February 28 in Bengaluru.
The new Executive Committee elections were supposed to take place before the previous committee's term expired. However, the PCI announced on January 22, 2024 that the elections would be held on March 28, 2024 in Bengaluru, creating a significant two-month gap after the previous committee's term ended. This decision by the PCI violates its own constitution and the Sports Code.
"Whereas the Ministry, vide circular no. 29-16/2014-SP-III dated 10.02.2015, with a view to impress upon the NSFs to hold the elections in time, has directed IOA and all NSFS that elections to elect new office bearers shall be conducted at least one month before the expiry of the term of the office bearers," it said.
"Whereas the Constitution of PCI (para 12.1.4) provides for holding election of the Governing Board Members every four years. Further, para 15.1 of PCI's Constitution provides that PCI's election procedure (once in 4 years) shall be followed as per Govt. of India's National Sports Development Code, 2011 (NSDC) Guidelines," it added.
The Ministry further said that the delaying of the election process is a failure of the "democratic process and the principles of good governance".
"Whereas the PCI was well aware of the fact that the term of the Executive Committee was only up to 31.01.2024, its decision to hold the election on 28.03.2024 is willful, intentional, and without any valid reason. Such failure undermines the democratic process and the principles of good governance as mandated under the National Sports Development. Code of India. Compliance with the Sports Code is imperative to ensure transparent and democratic governance in Indian sports in a legally sound framework, at par with the other National Sports Federations," it concluded.