The Supreme Court decision on Monday not to defer the Archery Association of India election proceedings until it passed its opinion on the amendments carried out by the Delhi High Court-appointed administrator SY Qureshi and the objections against some of those over-reaching changes has left him facing a piquant situation.
According to the “new” constitution, amended by the Delhi High appointed administrator, placed before the Supreme Court and filed with the Registrar of Societies of Delhi, at least one third of the AAI General Council shall be archers of outstanding merit and will be nominated by the Archers’ Commission of India.
Since that body is non-existent at moment, the administrator has given himself the right to nominate the archers to the general council in consultation with the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports. The larger question centres around how the administrator will go about the task of finding 30-plus archers of outstanding merit.
Though the election is scheduled for December 22, the last date for submission of names of authorised representatives of State Associations and Board is December 7. So, in effect, the administrator has only 12 days in which to cast his net and find the archers. Not just any archers but those of outstanding merit.
There are 16 archers who have won the Arjuna Award, including four who competed in the Asian Games this year, while Satyadev Prasad was given the Dhyan Chand Award and Purnima Mahato got the Dronacharya Award in 2013. Sanjeev Kumar Singh, an Arjuna Award winner in 1992, went on secure the Dronacharya Award for coaches in 2007 and is now a Government Observer.
As an aside, the Ministry may have to consider nominating a new Government Observer since Sanjeev Kumar Singh will be a voting member of AAI. It is not as if India is brimming with archers of such standing and credibility for the Ministry to be able to find an archer outside of those who are AAI members.
Returning to the task ahead of the administrator (who is, by the way, the Returning Office as well), it should not be surprising if he is forced to whittle down the meaning of the term “outstanding merit” that he has used in the AAI Constitution. Or, will he be compromise on a rule that he wrote down himself and settle for less than one-third representation by archers in the general council?
It is immediately not clear if an archer of outstanding merit representing a state unit or an associate member will have an additional vote as an archer of outstanding merit. It can be presumed that since one person can have only one vote, such an archer will have to choose between voting as an athlete or voting as a representative of a State or an institution.
In the Board of Control for Cricket in India’s case, the Supreme Court has not mandated the elections to be held since the BCCI Constitution have still not got its stamp of approval. Curiously, in AAI’s case, the Court has adopted a different stance, though it has not passed any orders on the “new” constitution.
As of Tuesday morning, link on the AAI website to Schedule-I leads the visitor to a page that reads: “HTTP Error 404.0 – Not Found. The resource you are looking for has been removed, had its name changed, or is temporarily unavailable.” The administrator has opened himself to the risk of having to settle for a “Not Found” report for the 30-plus archers of outstanding merit.
This article first appeared in Mail Today, November 21, 2018