The sports ministry might have given enough leeway to the national sports federations (NSFs) and Indian Olympic Association (IOA) while drafting the National Sports Development Bill, 2013, tailoring it to suit every recognised sports association in the country.
As per the new draft, which has been placed on the ministry’s website for public view, the meaning of office bearers is “any person who holds the office of president, secretary-general, treasurer or as defined in the constitution of the National Olympic Committee (NOC) or the National Sports Federation (NSF)”.
This is a watered down version of the 2011 National Sports Development Bill, which categorically mentioned that besides these three posts, the posts of joint secretaries “or any office (by whatever name called) in the general body of the NOC or the NSF”, came in the ambit of the Bill.
It was widely thought that the latest draft would further widen the ambit to plug the grey areas, whereby federation officials acquire fancy posts—such as directors, CEOs, trustees, chairmen, advisors, etc—to evade age and tenure restrictions as listed in the Bill. But the ambit is now down to only three officials.
Rahul Mehra, who recently resigned as member of the working group that drafted the Sports Bill, said “The latest definition of office bearers means that only the three top posts - president, secretary-general, treasurer - and no other post will come in the ambit of age (maximum for an office bearer, 70 years) and tenure (three terms of four years each for president, and two terms of four years each for the other two posts).”
In the event, septuagenarians and octogenarians will acquire fancy posts and continue to rule the roost after they complete their quota of tenures in any of the three posts.
The new draft Bill, while delving at length on the accreditation of NSFs, does not lay any guidelines for the IOA, the parent body.
The ministry might not be able to take any action against the IOA even if it fails to publish its annual audited accounts, misuses or unauthorisedly diverts government assistance, violates the eligibility criterion or terms and conditions of accreditation, because there are no checks and balances in the draft bill for the NOC.