From dissolving the All India Football Federation CoA to declaring that it will appoint a neutral person to run the Indian Olympic Association, the Supreme Court of India has always played an important role in the administration of the country’s sporting bodies over the years. Now, apex court has allowed the cricket board of the country to amend its constitution to modify the mandatory three-year cooling-off rule for its officials. Responding to a pending plea by the BCCI, the court ordered that any administrator can stay in office for two consecutive terms of three years each – both at BCCI and state associations – following which the cooling-off period comes into effect.
The SC ruling has paved the way for former Indian cricket captain Sourav Ganguly and Jay Shah to continue as BCCI president and secretary respectively. After holding state association posts, Shah and Ganguly assumed office in 2019. Since then, the duo has been awaiting the SC order in the pending BCCI plea.
As Shah and Ganguly prepare to start their second innings as the BCCI administrators, let’s take a look as some of the longest-serving and most influential sports administrators the country has had so far.
A top-level shooter during his playing days, Randhir Singh is known to be one of the most influential sports administrators the country has ever produced. Singh was a secretary general of the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) from 1987 to 2012 and the Olympic Council of Asia from 1991 to 2015, He also served as a member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) from 2001 to 2014 and was influential in bringing the Commonwealth Games to New Delhi in 2010. An Arjuna awardee in 1979, Singh competed in five Olympic Games from 1968 to 1984 and became the first Indian shooter to win an Asian Games gold in 1978. Singh is currently the acting president of the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) after beginning his term in 2021 following a court ruling against former president Sheikh Ahmad Al Fahad Al Sabah.
Indian politicians holding top positions in the sporting bodies has been a routine for decades and Praful Patel is one such name that ruled the All India Football Federation (AIFF) from 2009 till 2022. During Patel’s tenure as AIFF president, the Indian Super League was born in 2014, India hosted the FIFA U-17 Men’s World Cup successfully in 2017 and bagged the hosting rights of the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup which is scheduled for next month. He was also instrumental in the birth of the Indian Women’s League (IWL) in 2016. However, Patel stepped down as AIFF boss after Supreme Court handed the daily activities to Committee of Administrators (CoA) earlier this year. He also served as AFC’s vice-president of the SAFF region, senior vice-president of AFC and became a member of FIFA Finance Committee for a term of four years.
Suresh Kalmadi is another example of politicians ruling over an Indian sporting body for more than a decade. A former railway minister, Kalmadi was the president of the Indian Olympic Association from 1996 to 2011 until the New Delhi Commonwealth Games controversy broke out. Kalmadi is alleged to have been involved in corrupt practices in relation to 2010 CWG during his tenure as IOA chief and chairman of CWG 2010, and spent 10 months in jail. Kalmadi also served as Asian Athletics Association president from 2000 to 2013.
Jagmohan Dalmiya changed the face of Indian cricket globally. A cricketer during his growing up years, Dalmiya was regarded as one of the top sports administrators in the country, serving as president at the Cricket Association of Bengal, the Board of Control for Cricket in India, and International Cricket Council. Not only did Dalmiya lead from the front but was also instrumental in making the BCCI the richest cricket board in the world currently. Dalmiya served as CAB president from 1992 to 2006 and then from 2008 to 2015. He entered the BCCI in 1979 as a CAB representative and went on to become the treasurer four years later. He became the BCCI boss in 2001 for a term of three years and returned at the helm on two more occasions (in 2013 and 2015). During his time at BCCI, Dalmiya played a big part in bringing the World Cup (1987) outside England for the first time and paved the way for the rotation system for hosting the tournament. Dalmiya became the first Asian and the first non-cricketer to be an ICC president in 1997 and was instrumental in awarding Bangladesh Test status in 2000.
RK Khanna-Anil Khanna
The Khannas ruled Indian tennis for decades. It all started with Raj Kumar Khanna, who was the non-playing captain of the Indian team when it reached the Devis Cup finals in 1966. His association with AITA began the same year as the secretary and continued till 1874 before re-entering into the same capacity for four years in 1988. He became the AITA president for eight years from 1992 till 2000. The RK Khanna stadium in New Delhi is testimony of his contribution in Indian tennis and was also awarded Padma Shri and Padma Bhusan in 1974 and 1975 respectively. However, after his demise in 2005, his son Anil Khanna served as AITA secretary for two consecutive four-year terms before being elected as the president in 2012. Anil is currently the vice president of AITA.