In a major development, the Sports Ministry has suspended the Paralympic Committee of India (PCI) with immediate effect for failing to conduct elections on time and non-compliance with guidelines.
In its suspension order, the Sports Ministry on Saturday pointed out that the Executive Committee of PCI ended on January 31. Whereas the last elections of PCI were held in September 2019, due to an order passed by the Hon'ble Delhi High Court in W.P. No. 10647/2019 staying the notification of election dated 03.09.2019, and the returning officer was also restrained from declaring the result of the elections. As such, the results of the election were not declared.
The Hon'ble Delhi High Court, vide order dated 27.01.2020 in W.P. No. 10647/2019, allowed the declaration of results of the election notified on 03.09.2019 subject to the further orders to be passed in the said petition. In pursuance of the above order of the Hon'ble Delhi High Court, the Returning Officer declared the results of election on 31.01.2020. So, the four-year term of the Executive Committee of PCI has ended on 31.01.2024, the ministry said.
The Ministry further said that the election to form a new committee should have been conducted before the "expiry of the term of the previous Executive Committee."
However, it added that the upcoming elections to form a new committee will be held on February 28 in Bengaluru.
Whereas the elections for electing the new Executive Committee should have been held before the expiry of the term of the previous Executive Committee. However, PCI has vide notice dated 22.01.2024 announced that the elections will be held on 28.03.2024 at Bengaluru, which indicates a substantial gap of almost two months after the expiry of the term of the previous Executive Committee. This decision of the PCI is in violation of the provisions of the PCI's own constitution as well as the provisions of the Sports Code, it said.
"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.