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HindustanTimes Fri,01 Aug 2014

The more things change...
Hindustan Times
New Delhi, July 18, 2013
First Published: 16:55 IST(18/7/2013)
Last Updated: 01:43 IST(19/7/2013)

When former sports minister Ajay Maken gave final shape to the sports Bill in 2011 for the Union Cabinet’s nod, the idea behind the exercise was to provide the necessary set of guidelines to govern a community, which was — and still is — riddled with problems.

With politicians holding top posts in sports federations and associations — and with their positions being compromised by the Bill, it could not pass the Cabinet test. Now, after nearly two years, the working group of eminent sportspersons, journalists, sports administrators, lawyers and bureaucrats, have come up with the draft of the National Sports Development Bill, 2013, which is nothing but a watered down version of its older cousin.

While the brief given to the 12-member working group was to ‘not dilute the basic principles which govern the sports Bill 2011’ and ‘ensure transparency in the operations of the autonomous sports federations’, it would have given these sports bodies — and their administrators — hope that they might be able to continue to wield power, albeit from behind by acquiring the posts of CEOs, trustees, etc.

While the 2011 Bill too had its shortcomings in that it did not have a provision for tackling the menace of match-fixing and betting, it is still not there in the current draft despite this being pointed out by a working group member, who subsequently resigned in protest.

If a Bill is envisioned as all-encompassing, why are the basic tenets of good governance like age and tenure of officials and constitution of athletes’ commission and appellate sports tribunal, among others, not applicable to the all-powerful BCCI? If the age of a sports administrator is limited to 70 years and tenure of president to not more than three terms of four years each, why should it be only applicable to federations that receive government largesse?

Comparing the old and the new Bill throws up an interesting aspect. Everything is open-ended and the operative part will be decided on rules and guidelines, which have not been made or clearly defined, thus leaving things open to tampering.

For a Bill to be foolproof, laws, regulations, guidelines and punishments should be written in bold, black ink. Otherwise, it is an exercise in futility.


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