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Delhi High Court order leads to 54 National Sports Federations losing their recognition

Thursday witnessed an unprecedented move by the Indian Sports Ministry when it took a U-turn and withdrew its annual recognition of all the NSFs (National Sports Federations). This followed the Delhi High Court’s order on the recognition of NSFs. This has brought a face-off, if not an end, to the decade long court case that was regarding the governance issues of sports federations.

The Sports Ministry had extended the recognition of all 54 federations till September 30, 2020 earlier in the month. The high court order forced the ministry to take a reverse turn on its decision. Sports Ministry Deputy Secretary SPS Tomar wrote a letter to all the 54 sports federations saying, “In compliance of the order dated 24.06.2020 passed by the Honorable Delhi High Court, the Department’s letter of even number dated 02.06.2020 granting provisional annual recognition of 54 NSFs stands withdrawn.”

Suspension of three sports federations remains as such with the current high court’s ruling. These federations are Indian Golf Union, School Games Federations of India and Rowing Federation of India. The Indian Sports Ministry is planning to file a fresh application with objective of resolving the issue in earliest possible manner.

The annual recognition of NSFs is customarily renewed each year in January by the Sports Ministry. This year it was delayed due to some logistics issues and then as pandemic struck. To continue the smooth functioning of federations the ministry decided to renew the recognition on a provisional basis till September. However, this action was in “violation of sports code”, according to lawyer and activist Rahul Mehra. He claims allegations that “The Indian Olympic Association (IOA) was trying to derecognize a lot of sports federations and simultaneously create parallel bodies while the sports ministry played ball.”

The Delhi High Court’s decision can have a grave impact on the Indian sports. Due to pandemic the training centers and national camps are closed, except for the athletics and weightlifting. In ideal situation the government is supposed to grant funds and support training camps of recognized sports federations.

Weighing down on the court’s Thursday decision a federation official said, “We had shared with the sports ministry our plan to resume the national camps in phases July onwards. However, we do not know if we will be eligible for funding for the same.”

IOA is worried that the court order can be taken as a violation of charter by International Olympics Committee (IOC), which might lead to suspension by IOC.

Recognition for NSFs is important for funding and support by the government in holding training camps. In absence of recognition this can be a difficult time for Indian sports and a cumbersome road ahead to regain recognition.  

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