The ministry has declared the March 23, 2019 elections of the BSFI, held in Bengaluru, as “null and void” and has directed the federation to call a Special General Meeting (SGM) to announce a new date and venue for the fresh electoral exercise.
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The ministry set aside the BSFI elections on three counts, which were in direct contravention of the sports code: 1) appointing outgoing BSFI governing body’s secretary general, S Balasubramaniam, as the returning officer, whereas the Code ideally calls for a retired Supreme Court/High Court judge to be appointed as a returning officer; 2) Code prescribes for two votes in electoral college for each member state, whereas the BSFI constitution allows only one vote for each member unit; and 3) the outgoing federation office-bearers namely president (1), vice presidents (4), secretary general (1) and treasurer (1) casted votes during elections in their individual capacities, thus flouting the Code provision which prohibits voting rights to any other individual except the member state(s)/union territory(s).
In fact, India’s leading players, multiple-time world billiards and snooker champion, Pankaj Advani, and veteran cueist, Alok Kumar, had alleged violation of the Code during the BSFI’s polls after losing elections for respective vice president’s post. They had even highlighted various discrepancies during elections in a letter to the returning officer, a copy of which is with the TOI. The ministry, too, had received representations from several disgruntled BSFI member units highlighting violation of the Code and, it seems, that the ministry’s action was a result of those protest letters.
TOI contacted current BSFI secretary general, Devendra Joshi, himself a World Team billiards and snooker gold medallist, for his reaction and he confirmed to have received the directions from the ministry to call for fresh elections. “Yes, there were certain violations of the sports code on our part and we will be correcting them in our fresh elections. We have called the SGM in Mumbai on March 8 and, after giving the mandatory 21-day notice to member units, we will hold the elections for a four-year term on March 29 in Bengaluru”.
“The ministry has told us that the Code needs to be adhered and incorporated into the BSFI’s constitution. For that very purpose, we had called the Annual General Meeting (AGM) on February 8 in Mumbai where member units were informed about the fresh electoral process, for which notices were sent for the SGM. There were some observations on the ministry’s part where they informed that proper procedures weren’t followed in appointing the returning officer. Earlier, what had happened that voting during elections was done unanimously as part of a mutually-agreed committee. There was never such an election process, except on one occasion, when voting had to take place. So, the appointment of Mr Balasubramaniam as returning officer was one objection. The, of course, the one vote for each member state was in violation of the Code. The members of the incumbent committee can’t have separate votes. So, in this backdrop, the ministry has directed us to hold fresh elections, setting aside the previous process.”
During the elections held at the Karnataka state billiards association’s office in Bengaluru on March 23, M C Uthappa was elected as the president and Joshi as secretary general. Vice presidents were Sunil Bajaj, Soumini Srinivas, Vijay Goel and Pradip Saraogi. H R Rathan Kumar was elected as the treasurer.