The Delhi High Court on Friday quashed the appointment of Janardan Singh Gehlot and his wife as “Life President” and president of the Amateur Kabaddi Federation of India (AKFI) respectively, saying that they held the body to “ransom” by treating it as their “family enterprise”.
The High Court, which also appointed retired IAS officer Sanat Kaul as administrator to oversee the affairs of the federation till fresh elections are held, gave the verdict on a plea filed by former Kabaddi player and Arjuna Awardee Mahipal Singh and others challenging the appointments of Janardan Singh Gehlot, a former Congress minister, and his wife Mridula Bhadauria Gehlot.
Delivering a stinging rebuke to the Gehlots, the court observed that there was an “apparent anarchy” prevailing in the affairs of the AKFI and said it was appalled at the manner in which every mandatory condition “was ignored with impunity” by the couple.
“There is wealth of merit in the submission of the petitioners that Respondent Nos 4, 5 and 6 had, indeed, held the AKFI to ransom, and were treating it as their family enterprise, as if there were none else to further the sport of Kabaddi in the country,” a bench of acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice C Hari Shankar said.
Janardan Singh Gehlot is also the current president of International Kabaddi Federation. He had held the post of president of AKFI for 28 years before his wife took over.
The High court also struck down as “illegal” the amendments carried out in Memorandum of Association and Constitution of the AKFI and held that it did not have any authority to create a post of “Life President” when the National Sports Development Code of India did not contemplate the existence of any such post.
It said that as a beneficiary of the recognition conferred by the Government, the AKFI was bound by the stipulations contained in the Sports Code, and other guidelines issued by the Centre, and had no authority to create posts “de hors” (outside the scope of) and in excess of, those contemplated by the sports code.
Expressing surprise over the “clandestine and surreptitious” manner in which the wife of former president was allowed to contest for the post of president, the court directed her to render accounts of all financial benefits she has availed since the time of her appointment to the said post on May 19, 2013 till date, and ordered that the amount be recovered from her forthwith.
Elections in six months
It also ordered that the entire exercise of fresh elections should be carried out within a period of six months and AKFI shall make available to the administrator an appropriate office space and facilities for the discharge of the directions and make available such staff and personnel as he may express the need for.
“Till the elections are conducted and results declared in consonance of the NSCI and in compliance with the preceding directions, the AKFI shall not make any new financial commitments except with the prior approval of the Administrator. Routine expenses of AKFI too shall be defrayed, with the due prior approval of the Administrator.
The court made it clear that the bank accounts and other assets of AKFI shall be handed, and dealt with, only by the administrator or such other person whom he may choose to depute or appoint in this regard.