New Delhi, Dec 24 (PTI) The Sports Ministry on Sunday suspended the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) till further orders after the newly-elected body made a “hasty announcement” of organising the U-15 and U-20 nationals “without following due procedure and not giving sufficient notice to wrestlers” for preparations.
The ministry also said the new body was working under the “complete control of former (WFI) office-bearers”, which was not in conformity with the National Sports Code.
The WFI elections were held on December 21 with former president Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh’s loyalist, Sanjay Singh, and his panel winning the polls by big margins.
The new body hasn’t followed WFI constitution: Centre
“The new body has not followed the WFI constitution. The Federation stands suspended till further orders. WFI will not be taking care of day to day activities of wrestling. They need to follow the due process and the rules,” a sports ministry official told PTI.
Top wrestler Bajrang Punia, who along with Vinesh Phogat and Sakshi Malik, had led the agitation against Brij Bhushan had returned his Padma Shri award to the government on Friday in protest over Sanjay Singh, who is a Brij Bhushan loyalist becoming WFI President.
This was a day after Sakshi Malik quit wrestling for the same reason.
The source further explained the reasons for WFI suspension.
“Sanjay Kumar Singh, newly-elected president of WFI announced on December 21, the day he was elected as president, that U-15 and U-20 nationals for Wrestling will take place in Nandini Nagar, Gonda (UP) before the end of this year.
“This announcement is hasty, without giving sufficient notice to wrestlers who are to take part in the said nationals and without following the provisions of the constitution of WFI,” said the source.
“As per clause 3 (e) of preamble of constitution of WFI, object of the WFI, among others, is to arrange holding of Senior, Junior and Sub Junior National Championships as per UWW Rules at places selected by the Executive Committee,” said the source.
The source added that the new body had started functioning in the same premises (Brij Bhushan’s official bunglow) from where the previous office-bearers operated wherein allegedly sexual harassment of the players have been alleged.
“Newly-elected body appears to be in complete control of former office-bearers in complete disregard to the Sports Code.
“The business of the Federation is being run from the premises controlled by former office-bearers. Which is also alleged premises wherein sexual harassment of the players have been alleged and present (ly) the court is hearing the matter.
“The decisions made by the newly-elected executive body of the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) demonstrate a blatant disregard for the established legal and procedural norms, violating both the WFI’s constitutional provisions and the National Sports Development Code,” the source said.
Sexual harassment allegations
Several top wrestlers, including Olympic medallists Bajrang Punia and Sakshi Malik and World Championship medallist Vinesh Phogat have levelled allegations of sexual harassment against Brij Bhushan and the case is being heard in the Delhi High Court.
The source added that all these actions by the new body are contrary to the established norms of fair and transparent governance.
“The actions smack of complete arbitrariness on part of the President, which is against the settled principles of good governance and devoid of transparency and due process. Adherence to governance norms is vital for ensuring fair play, transparency and accountability. There are crucial to built trust among athletes, stakeholders, and the public,” said the source.
The source added that the decision to hold the national championships should have been done in a procedural manner by informing the executive committee, which was not done.
“Such decisions (holding of the nationals) are to be taken by Executive Committee, before which agendas are required to be placed for consideration. As per Article XI of the WFI constitution under the Heading ‘Notices and Quorum for Meetings’, minimum notice period for EC meeting is 15 clear days and quorum is of 1/3rd of representatives.
“Even for Emergency EC meeting, minimum notice period is 7 clear days with quorum requirement of 1/3rd of representatives.
“Further, in terms of the Article X (d) of Constitution of WFI, it is Secretary General of WFI, who has been made responsible for carrying out the general business of the Federation, keeping the minutes of the meetings, maintaining all the records of the Federation, calling the meetings of the General Council and the Executive Committee.
“It seems Secretary General has not been involved in the said meeting of EC, which was held without any notice or quorum,” the source added.
Newly-elected WFI secretary-general, Prem Chand Lochab, had written to Sanjay Singh a day after the elections that a “few states have objected to rescheduling and relocating of age group and junior Nationals”.
“In this regard, no regular meeting of the Executive Committee of WFI as per its Constitution has been conducted after the elections for newly elected Executive Council held on 21-12-2023.”
“In view of the above, it is felt that the grievances of state federations are genuine and may be considered and the U20 and U15 National Wrestling Championships 2023 scheduled at Nandini Nagar, Gonda from December 28-30 may be postponed,” Lochab, the former Railway Sports Control Board secretary had written in his letter.