August 25 - Only officials who serve more than two years in prison will be barred from contesting elections in future the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) voted today as it attempted to get its Olympic ban lifted.
India was suspended by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) last December after Lalit Bhanot, who served 11 months in custody for corruption charges relating to the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi, ran unopposed for the position of secretary general.
A series of recommendations had been proposed by the IOC, which included a clause which states that no person with a criminal conviction may run in IOA elections, in an an effort to get the ban lifted.
But the IOA Special General Body Meeting in New Delhi instead passed a diluted version of the proposal which, if accepted by the IOC - which is by no means certain - then not only would it allow Bhanot to retain his position but also would pave the way for disgraced former President Suresh Kalmadi to run for office again.
All the other amendments proposed by the IOC in the revised draft constitution were accepted by the delegates.
"We have accepted all the amendments proposed by the IOC except the chargesheet clause," said S Reghunathan, who had been elected chairman before the start of the meeting.
"We have modified that clause and now only those persons who have been convicted by a court for a jail term of two or more years will not be able to contest elections and will be disqualified automatically.
"This is the same as in Peoples Representation Act of Parliament.
"The cases of those persons who are convicted for a jail term for less than two years will be referred to the Ethics Commission of the IOA and the IOA Executive Committee will take a final decision on the recommendations by Ethics Commission."
Before the meeting 50 demonstrators, under the banner of Clean Sports India, protested against IOA officials involved in corruption cases.
"These criminals in Indians sports should be thrown out," said Rahul Mehra, a prominent Indian lawyer who is a member of Clean Sports India.
"They are eating into the vitals of Indian sports.
"Criminals should have no place in Indian sports."
Among those who attended the meeting was Randhir Singh, the IOC member in India, but V K Malhotra, the President of the IOA as recognised by the IOC, was not present.
The IOA also voted to adopt the IOC rule on office bearers having to retire at the age of 70 but only for senior officials.
"The age rule applied to the IOC members will apply to IOA also," said Reghunathan.
"And we have accepted the tenure rules proposed by the IOC but will apply to only to three office bearers namely President, secretary general and treasurer."
The meeting proposed September 29 to hold new elections which will be overseen by a three-man Election Commission comprising of M R Kalra, retired Chief Justice of Rajasthan High Court, and S N Sapra and Lokeshwar Prasad, both former Delhi High Court Justices.
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