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Sports Bill to end polticians' reign?

delhi Updated: Aug 30, 2011 08:53 IST
Chetan Chauhan

The reign of politicians heading national sports federations, such as VK Malhotra of BJP and Jagdish Tytler of the Congress, will end if the government agrees to the provisions of the National Sports Development Plan.

The government, through the National Sports Development Bill, 2011, to be considered by the Cabinet on Tuesday, stipulates a maximum term of 12 years for presidents and eight years for all other office-bearers of the national sports federations.

The bill allows these office-bearers to rejoin the federations only after a cooling-off period of four years, counting from the end of their terms. But they can rejoin if they are less than 70 years old.

Over 80% of the present office-bearers of prominent national sports federations such as Indian Olympic Association, Archery Association and Athletes Federation, will lose their jobs if the bill is enacted.

Several attempts to rein in sports federations since Uma Bharti's stint as sports minister during the NDA regime, have failed because of the political clout the associations exerted.

But the government believes that this is the best time to pass the law as several top sports administrators are embroiled in the CWG and other scams.

To prevent any conflict of interest, the draft law also proposes that any person who has been a sports minister cannot join a sports federation for a period of five years after relinquishing his/her ministerial office.

Further, no government official will be allowed to join any sports federation without written permission from the controlling authority concerned. VK Verma was a bureaucrat when he joined the Indian Badminton Association, which he has been heading for the last 13 years.

Secret ballot poll
The new law also prescribes elections through secret ballot, instead of the prevailing practice of voice votes.

This aims to ensure transparency and involve more athletes in the running of sports bodies. Provisions to check sexual harassment and age fraud detection have also been incorporated in the bill.

The bill tries to settle the issue arising out of Himachal Pradesh chief minister Prem Kumar Dhumal, whether the sports ministry was competent to frame a law on the state subject.

The sports ministry has highlighted two reasons for introducing the bill.

First, the success of the Panchayat Yuva Krida Aur Khel Abhiyan and second, legal opinion given by the Attorney General in 2007, which said the Central government had powers to frame laws for national sports federations.