Delhi High Court appoints former SC judge Vineet Saran as returning officer for TTFI elections

The Delhi High Court has appointed retired Supreme Court Justice, Judge Vineet Saranas Returning Officer for the conduct of Table Tennis Federation of India (TTFI) Executive Committee (EC) Elections.

Judge Rekha Palli asked the former judge to prepare the electoral college and conduct the elections in accordance with the constitution of the federation. The retired judge also asked to ensure that only state associations that respect the Sports Code are allowed to participate in the elections.

The returning officer will receive an amount of Rs.7,50,000 in addition to secretarial costs, which will be borne by the TTFI, Judge Palli said in an order dated October 17.

The order was adopted in the motion filed by the table tennis player Manika Batra. Although the plea was mainly against TTFIl rules which made it compulsory to attend the national coaches camp to be selected for international events, the court followed the investigation into the affairs of the federation.

In February, the court appointed a three-member Committee of Trustees (CoA) with the former Chief Justice of the High Court of Jammu and Kashmir, Judge Gita Mittal as President to manage the affairs of TTFI.

Earlier, a three-member independent commission of inquiry was also appointed to look into Batra’s complaint which made allegations against the national coach. Soumyadeep Roy. Said committee was made up of two former Supreme Court justices and a former athlete.

A report was later submitted by the Board of Inquiry stating that TTFI had failed in its obligations as a National Sports Federation (NSF) to work for the welfare of athletes and the promotion of sport.

On Monday, the court noted that the CoA had carried out its duties diligently, keeping in mind the interest of sport as well as the sportsmen, while bearing in mind the precious resources. Justice Palli said the CoA has made efforts to streamline the way the federation conducts business.

While the court was still considering the Federation EC’s objections to the Board of Inquiry’s report, it was informed that the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) had sent a communication to the CoA on August 15 stating that Unless a democratically elected executive body is put in place to manage the affairs of the federation, the ITTF may have to take appropriate protective measures, including the suspension of the TTFI as a member of the federation. ‘ITTF.

Consequently, it was decided to organize elections to choose a new EC. However, the Center told the court that until an investigation is carried out into the affairs of the existing EC, none of its 23 members will be allowed to participate in the next elections.

Noting that while EC members cannot be held guilty of any wrongdoing without being given a proper opportunity, the Court said that the findings of the Board of Inquiry and the specific observations of the CoA regarding the functioning of the federation cannot be ignored.

“It will be an unfortunate day for the game if all of the Board of Inquiry or CoA observations regarding the misconduct of EC members are ultimately proven to be true,” the court said.

He added: “In my opinion, at this stage, when the comments of the CoA point to a very deplorable picture of the functioning of the EC and, in particular its observations that the EC is run by only two or three people, it would be against the interests of the sport if this issue is simply closed at this premature stage itself.”

“Allowing current EC members to participate in the election would not only be against the interest of the country, but would clearly demoralize the athletes, whose confidence in the system appears to have been restored to some extent, as it is evident in the laurels brought to the country by table tennis athletes at recent Commonwealth Games and other international events.”

The court ordered that if, after considering the outstanding objections of the federation, it were to be concluded that no further investigation into its affairs was necessary, the court could consider passing appropriate orders to hold new elections in allowing existing EC members to participate.

However, he added that at the current stage, none of the existing members would be eligible to stand in the elections.

“The factum of the elections being subject to the outcome of this petition, the current members of the EC not being eligible to participate in these elections would be clearly indicated in the notice of election which will be published by the returning officer”, has he declared.

Batra was aggrieved by being excluded from the contingent sent for the 25th ITTF Asian Table Tennis Championships, 2021.

The petition alleged that Soumyadeep Roy, the national coach, pressured Batra to ‘play’ a game in an effort to help one of his trainees from his private academy qualify for the 2020 Olympics. She therefore called for an investigation into the management of the Federation. and Roy’s conduct.

In November last year, the Court decided to appoint a 3-member commission to investigate the match-fixing allegations made by Batra against national coach Soumyadeep Roy.

Case Title: Manika Batra v. Indian Table Tennis Federation and Ors.

Click here to read the order

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