The Sports Ministry has decided to grant provisional recognition to the national governing bodies of golf, school games and rowing following a review of its earlier decision. The development has come to light after the Ministry filed an affidavit in the Delhi High court.
The Ministry, on May 11, had given provisional recognition to 54 national sports federations till September, leaving out Indian Golf Union (IGU), School Games Federation of India (SGFI) and Rowing Federation of India (RFI) on various grounds. While recognition to NSFs is usually annual, this time the Ministry had decided to extend it only till September, prompting questions from the Indian Olympic Association president Narinder Batra. The Ministry informed its decision to "restore the suspended/withheld government recognition" of IGU, SGFI and RFI in an affidavit dated June 16.
The government recognition of IGU was withheld since November 11, 2018 for not holding elections as the district court of Alipore stayed the Annual General Body Meeting scheduled for December 15, 2018. But the Calcutta High Court, in an order dated February 19 this year, vacated the stay on holding the AGM. The IGU then scheduled its elections for March 23 but had to be postponed in the wake of the coronavirus-forced nationwide lockdown. The IGU requested for extension of the government recognition, which the Ministry informed the court that it will be granted.
"...in the light of unprecedented situation arising due to COVID-19 and to protect the interest of sportspersons who have been practicing and have strong possibilities of qualifying for Olympics, the ministry has decided to grant provisional recognition to IGU till September 30, 2020 as has been done in case of 54 other NSFs," the ministry said in the affidavit.
The Sushil Kumar-led SGFI was derecognised for mismanagement which has resulted to the girls' hockey team not being able to reach the venue in time for a match in the Pacific School Games 2017 in Adelaide and the death of a member of girls' football team due to drowning. But upon review, the Ministry felt the continued suspension of SGFI will affect the sporting and academic career of school children as most of them are from weaker sections of society, and they would be deprived of financial assistance, sponsorship and admission to academic institutions based on their performances.
Accordingly, the Ministry informed the High Court that SGFI's suspension will be revoked and provisional annual recognition will be granted till September 30. The Ministry also informed the HC that "apart from the Pradeep Kumar, Naresh Kumar Mann and Virender Singh who have already been banned for life, other officials including Chef-de-Mission and all general managers of Indian contingent fielded by SGFI for the Pacific School Games, will not be associated in any capacity with the SGFI for 5 years."
Regarding RFI, its recognition was suspended from February 1 this year after the Ministry ruled that the elections held in December last year violated the Sports Code. The RFI later amended its constitution and elections were held on February 22 for the term 2020-2024, which the Ministry accepted. Ministry's recognition is of great significance to smaller NSFs as they mostly depend on the government's yearly funding to manage their day-to-day expenses.