The Delhi High Court will decide Wednesday whether to allow sacked Commonwealth Games Organising Committee chief Suresh Kalmadi, an accused in a graft case, to travel to London for the Olympics 2012 starting July 27.
A division bench of Acting Chief Justice A.K. Sikri and Justice Rajiv Sahai Endlaw Tuesday reserved its order on a petition against Kalmadi’s travel plans after both sides presented their views.
Advocate Rahul Mehra has filed a public interest litigation (PIL) seeking direction to restrain Kalmadi from visiting London, contending he was facing trial in a corruption case and could not be allowed to represent the country at an international event.
Mehra, objecting to Kalmadi’s planned London trip, said he was going to attend the Games at public expense and in violation of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) code of ethics.
Countering Mehra, senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for Kalmadi, who is out on bail in a graft case related to the 2010 Delhi Commonwealth Games (CGW), told the court that Kalmadi was leaving for London Olympics starting later this week in his individual capacity and not in his official capacity as the president of Indian Olympic Association (IOA).
“I am not going there to represent either the government of India or any other sports body of India. I have not been sponsored by any Indian body. I am not carrying the badge of Indian representative in the Olympics,” said Kalmadi.
“I have a fundamental right to travel and I certainly have a right to watch the Games if I choose to buy ticket on my own or some friends give me a ticket,” he said.
“I am the president of the Asian Athletics Association (AAA) and have been invited by the International Association of Athletics Federation (IAAF), a foreign body. And I am going there on behalf of the AAA,” Kalmadi said.
Rohatgi said that “Kalmadi will not watch any sporting event as an invitee of the IAAF, but he cannot be stopped from travelling and watching a game in his individual capacity”.
Mehra sought the cancellation of Kalmadi’s visit on moral and ethical grounds, and argued that he should be restrained from attending the London Olympics.
He told the court that Kalmadi, as a president of the IOA, had given two undertakings (in January and February) to remain away for a long period from the association and to not interfere with its day-to-day affairs, following a letter from the IOC to comply with its code of ethics.
The CBI in its first charge sheet described Kalmadi, who is a Lok Sabha member, as a prime accused and the mastermind in the corruption case related to financial irregularities in awarding a Rs.141 crore contract for a scoring system for the CWG. Ten others are also named in the charge sheet.
The accused officials and two companies were charged under various sections of the Indian Penal Code for cheating, criminal conspiracy and forgery and under the Prevention of Corruption Act.