HC Stays IOA Letter Granting Recognition to the Handball Association (India)

In an order dated July 20, 2023, the Punjab and Haryana High Court in Handball Federation of India v. Union of India and Ors. (CWP No.15338/2023) stayed the implementation of the letter dated May 31, 2023, issued by respondent no.3, the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) granting recognition to respondent no.5, Handball Association (India).

To determine which of the two entities, i.e., the Handball Federation of India (the petitioner herein) or the Handball Association (India) was the actual national body, the Supreme Court, vide order dated September 22, 2022, in Indian Olympic Association v. Union of India & Ors. [SLP(C) No.14533/ 2022], appointed the former Supreme Court Judge, Justice L Nageswara Rao to submit a report. In a report dated November 2, 2022, it was clarified that the Handball Association (India) was not a member of the IOA and consequently, could not send its representatives to participate in the elections to the IOA. The petitioner was recognised as a National Sports Federation (NSF) by the Government and was recommended to be eligible to participate in the said elections.

Thereupon, the petitioner filed a civil writ petition before the Punjab and Haryana High Court pertaining to the recommendation made by the Asian Handball Federation to the International Handball Federation of India and the IOA to change the name of ‘Handball Federation of India’ to ‘Handball Association (India)’ on their website and records. Accordingly, the Court directed the IOA to consider the petitioner’s plea and pass an appropriate order after providing the parties with an opportunity to be heard.

Complying with the said order, the IOA, through its communication dated April 20, 2023, stated that “the issue of membership for the sport of Handball shall be kept in abeyance as neither of the bodies can be given membership in the IOA at present”. Despite this, the IOA proceeded to grant recognition to the Handball Association (India) which led the petitioner to file the present case.

Accepting the petitioner’s plea, the Court has issued a stay on the implementation of the letter dated May 31, 2023, until the next date of hearing.

It is interesting to note that days after the said stay order was issued, the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports decided to recognise the Handball Association (India) as an NSF.