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AICF Polls: Rs 11 lakh difference between Returning Officers' fees raises eyebrows

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AICF Polls: Rs 11 lakh difference between Returning Officers' fees raises eyebrows

Chennai, Feb 17 (IANS) A glaring difference in the fees to be paid to the two Returning Officers — both retired high court judges — appointed for conducting the office-bearers’ elections for the All India Chess Federation (AICF) is being raised by the chess administrators.

While one Returning Officer was appointed by the Delhi High Court, the other was appointed by AICF President Sanjay Kapoor.

The Delhi High Court, by an order dated 6.12.2023, had appointed Justice (Retd) G.S. Sistani as the second Returning Officer and fixed a fee of Rs 5,00,000. The court had also ordered that the AICF elections should be held in Delhi, and not in Kanpur where Kapoor lives.

In November 2023, Kapoor appointed Allahabad High Court’s retired Justice Rang Nath Pandey as the Returning Officer at a fee of Rs 16,00,000.

Incidentally, the AICF had paid Rs 5,00,000 as the Returning Officer’s fee to former Justice (Retd) of Punjab and Haryana High Court, K. Kannan, for conducting the AICF elections in 2021.

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Queried about the Rs 11,00,000 increase in the Returning Officer’s fee as compared to what was paid by the AICF during the last office-bearers’ elections and the one fixed by the Delhi High Court this time, Kapoor brusquely told IANS: “Don’t create a controversy,” and disconnected the call.

“Any expenditure over Rs 10 lakh has to be approved by the AICF Executive Council. Kapoor had issued the appointment order to Justice Pandey on 29.11.2023. After that a couple of General Body meetings of the AICF were held. But this issue was not discussed at any of the meetings,” Naresh Sharma, AICF Treasurer, told IANS.

“I had told Kapoor the fee agreed is too high, to which he had replied, ‘I am empowered to do so’,” Sharma said.

According to chess officials, Kapoor should have looked at other options as legal professionals are free to stipulate their fees.

Meanwhile a question mark hangs over the holding of the AICF elections as it is not compliant with the National Sports Development Code, 2011, officials alleged.

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On February 14, the Delhi High Court had directed the Government of India to state in its reply/affidavit whether the AICF is in compliance with the directions contained in the judgment dated 16.08.2022 passed in W.P. (C)195/2010 read with the National Sports Development Code of India, 2011.

Sanjay K Chadha, President, Devbhoomi Chess Association, told IANS: “The Delhi High Court in its order dated 16.8.2022 laid out various norms for the National Sports Federations. The court also ordered that the National Sports Development Code, 2011 is applicable not only to the National Sports Federations, but also to the state and district affiliates.”

Chadha said the AICF and majority of its state affiliates are not compliant with the National Sports Development Code.

“I had emailed the two Returning Officers seeking clarification on the Delhi High Court order dated 16.8.2022, but there was no reply. Later, several state associations had sent mails, which were also not replied to,” Sharma said.

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On Friday, the Delhi High Court stayed the elections for the Volleyball Federation of India scheduled for Saturday on the ground that it is not in compliance with its 16.8.2022 order, Chadha said.

“In November 2023, a legal opinion was obtained on the applicability of the Delhi High Court dated 16.8.2023 to AICF and its state affiliates and district chess bodies. The legal opinion was sent to all the state affiliates.

“The AICF also paid Rs 50,000 to the state associations as part of the expenses to be compliant with the National Sports Development Code, 2011. But none of the state affiliates turned compliant,” Bharat Singh Chauhan, former Secretary, AICF, told IANS.

(Venkatachari Jagannathan can be reached at v.jagannathan@ians.in)

–IANS

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