IOA chief ‘disappointed’ after HC takes away award

New Delhi, Sep 1 (IANS) Indian Olympic Association (IOA) president N. Ramachandran has expressed his disappointment after being stripped of the Rashtriya Khel Protsahan Puraskar by the Delhi High Court.

“I am travelling at the moment and have not had an opportunity to read the order. I have the highest regard and faith in the Indian judiciary. However I am disappointed with the decision,” Ramachandran said in a statement on Tuesday.

“I will decide on the way forward after I have had an opportunity to peruse the entire order. This will not take away my passion for promoting sports and sports administration.”

Ramachandran was conferred the honour in 2011 during his time as patron of the Squash Rackets Federation of India because he claimed to have spent Rs 7.5 crore over a period of 10 years to run the Squash and Triathlon Academy in Tamil Nadu.

He also claimed to have contributed Rs two crore to the Indian Squash Academy.

But a two-judge bench concluded in a 53-page judgement on Monday that the selection and process of verification was questionable. The court was acting on a petition filed by a group of former squash players in 2013.

“The award to the fifth respondent (Ramachandran) was finalised without a proper inquiry and proper application of mind, and no attempt to verify the claims of achievement of the fifth respondent was seriously made,” the High Court had said in its order.

“It would not be unreasonable to conclude that the approach of the committee appeared to be of genial camaraderie and affinity with the fifth respondent [Ramachandran]- more akin to ‘well we have heard good things about him, so there is no harm in recommending his name (for the Puraskar)’.”

Hockey India (HI) president Narinder Batra lashed out at Ramachandran on Tuesday.

“Shame on you. Are you quitting as IOA president now or will still continue like a shameless person. Can IOA have a president like you who gives false details for award continue? Is it good governance?” Batra said.

Ramachandran, who is also the president of the World Squash Federation, is the brother of current International Cricket Council chairman and former Board of Control for Cricket in India chief N. Srinivasan.

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