What is the proposed National Sports Development Legislation?

The new Sports minister Ajay Makan recently announced that the National Sports Development Legislation will be framed within a stipulated time.

  • The proposed legislation will support age and term limits for sports officials, whereby IOC members will have to give up their memberships at the end of the calendar year during which they reach the age of 70.
  • In case a member has completed two successive terms, he may be elected again after a minimum period of two years.
  • Federation presidents will be elected by secret ballot from among members for a term of eight years, renewable once for four years.

Thus, the legislation is expected to clip the wings of the Indian Olympic Committee and National Sports Federations (NSFs) bosses, while empowering athletes.

On February 22, the Ministry as uploaded Preliminary Exposure Draft on its website http://www.yas.nic.in/writereaddata/mainlinkFile/File921.pdf and invited comments and suggestions for its improvement from the public in 30 days.

Why this Legislation?

The legislation will see greater participation of sportsmen in decision making process . The proposed legislation would be widely based and would incorporate essence of six parameters including the IOC charter, anti-doping laws, age fraud detection, basic universal principles of good governance, good international legislative practices and sexual harassment.

  • The draft takes inspirations from several acts legislated in some parts of the world, notably the "Ted Stevens Olympic Amateur Act of 1978" enacted by the US.
  • Ted Stevens Olympic Amateur Act provides for reservation of 20 per cent membership and voting rights for amateur athletes who are actively involved in the sport and have represented the US in the past 10 years.

Similar to this bill, the proposed Indian bill seeks to reserve a 25 per cent quota for athletes in the voting process. The last time the issue cropped up, the IOA managed to get a letter from the International Olympic Committee, warning that any government interference in the national body’s affairs could lead to India’s suspension from the Olympic Movement. However, the ministry had timed its latest move to near perfection. It has the IOA top brass, starting from Kalmadi, cornered as they are being probed for corruption in the conduct of the Commonwealth Games.

What is Sports Ministry & BCCI strife for NSF?

Recently, the sports minister invited the BCCI to register itself as a National Sports Federation (NSF), BCCI had earlier refused to do so. Let’s discuss what the matter is.

Olympic Charter

The first thing is that the Government wishes the national federations to enforce the Olympic Charter, which was last updated February 11, 2010.

  • Olympic Charter is a bundle of rules and guidelines for the organization of the Olympic Games, and for governing the Olympic Movement.
  • It was adopted by the International Olympic Committee (IOC), it is the codification of the Fundamental Principles, Rules and By-laws.
  • The Olympic Charter defines the rights and obligations of the 4 main constituents of the Olympic movement viz. the International Olympic Committee (IOC), the International Federations and the National Olympic Committees, and the Organizing Committees for the Olympic Games.

So, the above mentioned proposed legislation is based on the basic universal principles of good governance, apart from good international legislative practices in other countries like USA, France, Sri Lanka, etc. The energetic minister also wants to address the issues of anti-doping, sexual harassment and age fraud under the National Sports Development Code of India.

Issue with BCCI:

In India, the federations like athletics, badminton, boxing, golf, gymnastics, hockey, rowing, shooting, tennis, volleyball, weightlifting and yachting have already accepted the government’s guidelines for good governance, by registering with the Government, these federations come to be treated as apex national bodies in India. The officials of these bodies are expected to respect the tenure and age limit rules.

Each federation is also expected to have sportspersons for about 20 per cent of its membership, with voting rights, apart from having proper grievance redressal mechanism. However, BCCI has not done so.

BCCI’s Standpoint:

Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has not complied with the mandatory requirements of submitting the necessary documents to the Government of India for annual recognition as a National Sports Federation (NSF) /Apex Body for the game of cricket in India.

It’s worth note that the BCCI was de-recognized by the Sports Ministry last year since it had refused to register as an NSF and comply with age and term guidelines for its office bearers. The BCCI’s main contention was that since it does not take any financial assistance from the ministry, it is not binding on them to follow the guidelines.

In this context, a meeting was organized recently in which the minister, BCCI president Shashank Manohar and other prominent persons such as Arun Jaitely and Rajiv Shukla, and Indian Premier League (IPL) CEO Sundar Raman. The ministry advises the BCCI to register the entity as a national sports federation.

What is at stake for BCCI?

The Government follows a process by which it recognizes a body as the apex body for particular sports in India. If BCCI does not register itself as NSF, there may be a claim from a parallel body. (This last line is personal view)

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