Veteran sports administrator Narinder Batra was on Friday ordered to stop functioning as Indian Olympic Association (IOA) president by the Delhi High Court "in a contempt proceeding", a month after it asked him to relinquish the top job.
A vacation bench of Justice Dinesh Sharma passed the order on a contempt petition filed by Olympian and hockey World Cup winner Aslam Sher Khan.
Contempt of court
"The court ordered that Mr. Narinder Batra should stop from functioning as IOA president with immediate effect," advocate Vanshdeep Dalmia, who appeared on behalf of Khan, told PTI. "It was a contempt proceeding as Mr. Batra was continuing to attend meeting as IOA president despite an earlier order of this court. The court also said Mr. Anil Khanna, senior vice-president, will be the acting president of the IOA," he added.
On May 25, Batra was removed as IOA chief after the Delhi High Court struck down the post of 'life member' in Hockey India, courtesy which he had contested and won the apex body elections back in 2017.
At that time also, the IOA had installed Khanna as its acting chief.
Batra had filed his nomination for the IOA president's post as a representative (life member) of Hockey India.
'Not a personal property'
"He was not resigning from the post of IOA president after the High Court order of last month. So, I had to file a contempt of court petition. It is not his personal property, it is a national body and everybody will have to abide by court order. But he was not doing that," Khan said.
In a petition filed by Khan, the Delhi HC had ruled last month that the position of life member and life president were "illegal" since they were not in consonance with the National Sports Code, and installed a three-member Committee of Administrators (CoA) to run Hockey India.
"...the administrative setup of R-2 (Hockey India) is, erroneously or illegally constituted because of the Life President and Life Members," the HC bench of Justices Najmi Wajiri and Swarana Kanta Sharma had said in its order.
"The Government of India cannot grant recognition to a NSF whose constitution is not in consonance with the Sports Code. The posts of Life President, Life Member in the NSF are illegal so is the post of CEO in the Managing Committee. These posts are struck-down." The HC also came down hard on Batra for trying to "benefit" elsewhere from an "illegal" post.
"What a paradox, to make oneself permanent in an entity whose tenure itself is impermanent. The illegal Post of life president or life member cannot be the stepping-stone for any other position or benefit elsewhere, be it nationally (including in Indian Olympic Association) or in international bodies," the HC bench said.
"If R-3 (Batra) has so benefitted, then such benefit or position shall end right away. Let the CoA look into the matter, so would the Government of India." Batra is also heading the International Hockey Federation (FIH). He became president of the world hockey body in 2016 and reclaimed the position last year for a second term.
Batra's removal means that his membership of International Olympic Committee will also come to an end as the coveted position was linked to his IOA presidency.
Batra was made an IOC member in 2019.
Just after the HC ruling of last month, Batra had said that he will not seek re-election to the IOA president's post as he needs to give more time to the FIH.
Batra's reign has been marred by various controversies.
In 2020, IOA vice-president Sudhanshu Mittal had written to the IOC, alleging irregularities and false declarations by Batra in his election to the top post.
Recently, Batra had apologised for a social media post against former Chief Justice of India RM Lodha, a development which had led to demands of his resignation from the IOA top job.
In April, the CBI had also initiated a preliminary inquiry against Batra for alleged misappropriation of public funds.