The Supreme Court today permitted All India Chess Federation (AICF) secretary Bharat Singh Chauhan, who was restrained from acting as the office bearer by the Delhi High Court, to continue at the helm till August 15 to ensure the smooth holding of the Chess Olympiad, observing that nation and its pride come first.

The 44th Chess Olympiad is being hosted by India and will commence on July 28 and continue till August 22.

The Delhi High Court, in a recent interim order on a plea of defeated candidate Ravindra Dongre, had injuncted Chauhan from acting as the secretary of the AICF on allegations ranging from electoral malpractice to violation of the national sports code.

So far as we are concerned, the nation and the nation's pride come first, a Bench comprising of Justice M R Shah and Justice Aniruddha Bose said and permitted Chauhan to continue acting as secretary of the AICF till August 15.

Having heard the learned counsel of respective parties, we dispose of the present appeal in terms of the following order. Let the union of India and appellant file detailed affidavits before the Division Bench of the Delhi High Court... within a period of four weeks from today, it said.

Thereafter, the High Court will pass a fresh order including the grant of an interim relief after giving opportunities to all concerned within four weeks, it ordered.

As it is reported that the nation is holding the prestigious Chess Olympiad in the country from July 28 to August 10, 2022, and the same is not affected further in any manner, we direct the appellant (Chauhan), to be continued as secretary of the federation till August 15, by way of an interim arrangement only, it said.

However, the order permitting Chauhan to remain at the helm would be without prejudice to the rights and contentions of the parties litigating before the High Court, it clarified.

Chauhan, after being restrained from acting as the secretary of the AICF till further orders by the High Court, moved the appeal to the Apex Court. Senior Advocate Maninder Singh said that the principle of natural justice was not followed as Chauhan was not granted adequate opportunity to put his case.

Dongre, who had allegedly lost to Chauhan in AICF polls, has also alleged violation of the national sports code saying Chauhan has been in the position of power for more than 17 years while the Code prohibits the office-bearers from holding office for more than eight years.

Chauhan was the treasurer of AICF from 2005 to 2011, secretary from 2011 to 2013, CEO from 2014 to 2017, and secretary since 2017, Dongre has alleged.

With PTI inputs