Indian Sports Ministry Suspends Paralympic Committee, Directs Rescheduling of Polls

The suspended Paralympic Committee of India (PCI) has rescheduled its polls to March 9, 2024, following the direction by the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports to conduct elections within 21 days. 

The PCI was suspended during the first week of February on account of the delay in holding elections. In its communication dated February 2, 2024, the Ministry stated that the elections should have been conducted well before the date on which the four-year term of the previous Executive Committee expired, i.e., January 31, 2024. Contrary to this, PCI had issued a notice announcing that the elections would be conducted on March 28, 2024, subsequent to the Shooting World Cup scheduled to be held from March 6 to 14 (to ensure smooth conduct of the said event). Attention was drawn to the Ministry’s circular dated February 10, 2015, wherein the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) and all the National Sports Federations (NSFs) were called upon to conduct elections at least one month before the expiry of the term of the office bearers.

Refusing to accept this two-month gap, the Ministry held the PCI to be in violation of the PCI constitution and the provisions of the National Sports Development Code, 2011. The Ministry considered the PCI’s decision to be “willful, intentional and without any valid reason“.

With this, the recognition of the PCI was suspended with immediate effect. The Sports Authority of India (SAI) was then directed to constitute an ad-hoc committee by coordinating with the International Paralympic Committee (IPC). This ad-hoc committee was to oversee the PCI’s operations and conduct elections as well.

However, the IPC, in a letter dated February 12, 2024, stated that the PCI was not in breach of any of its member obligations. The global governing body refused to intervene and form the said ad-hoc committee. Further, the IPC urged the parties to resolve the matter, considering that the focus was on facilitating the participation of Indian para-athletes in the Paris 2024 Paralympic Games. It was also pointed out that the concerns pertaining to governance issues raised by the Ministry related to national laws and regulations. The IPC added that its members were expected to “manage their affairs autonomously and without interference from bodies outside the Paralympic Movement as required by the provisions of the IPC Constitution“.

Days after the IPC made its stand clear, the Ministry directed the PCI to hold elections within 21 days, and the PCI promptly rescheduled the elections.