The Delhi High Court on Wednesday restrained former CWG Organising Committee chairman Suresh Kalmadi from attending the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games in London, saying his presence there could “embarrass” the government and the country.
A Bench of acting Chief Justice A K Sikri and Justice Rajiv Sahai Endlaw barred Kalmadi from leaving the country till July 27, the day on which the opening ceremony is to be held. However, the Bench said he could go to London after the opening ceremony on the condition that he would not attend any event in an official capacity.
“Having regard to the fact that Kalmadi was associated with the International Olympic Committee for quite sometime, his presence in the ensuing Olympic Games, particularly at the opening ceremony, may be viewed by one and all concerned as representing India and would be contrary to the national interest. Therefore, we are not allowing him to attend the opening ceremony,” the Bench said.
Quoting a Supreme Court order, the Bench held that in the age of information technology, news travels very fast and therefore, even if Kalmadi was travelling in a personal capacity, his actions may cause embarrassment to the nation.
The court passed its order on a PIL filed by lawyer Rahul Mehra seeking to restrain Kalmadi from going to London for the Olympics in view of the fact that he was facing trial in a corruption case related to the 2010 Commonwealth Games and could not be allowed to represent the country at an international event.
A trial court had granted Kalmadi permission to visit London after he pleaded that being the president of Asian Athletes Association, he had been invited by the International Association of Athletics Federations.
In response to the PIL, Kalmadi had told the court that he was leaving for London in his individual capacity and not in his official capacity as the president of Indian Olympic Association.
“I am not going there to represent either the government or any sports body. 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...,” he added.