Sports minister, Ajay Maken, has faced stiff opposition from the BCCI, the world's richest cricket body, by attempting to bring it under regulation through a new draft law. Even though the Cabinet asked him on Tuesday to rework the draft law in the wake of objections from ministers associated with cricket bodies, Maken is optimistic that transparency and accountability will remain the hallmark of the proposed law.
Excerpts from the interview:
Why do you think the BCCI should accept the National Sports Development Bill?
There is a lot of national sentiment associated with cricket and people expect the Board to be more transparent and accountable in its functioning. I believe the BCCI should take a lead in making itself accountable to the people.
How do you justify bringing the BCCI, which does not receive money from the government, under the RTI?
Sports federations in India select national teams which represent India in international competition. The selection of these teams is a public activity as there is a lot of interest in the performance of the teams. Many federations get direct, and others like the BCCI, indirect benefits such as land at cheap rates, free security for conducting a match and tax rebate from the government. The RTI clearly provides that any private body receiving direct or indirect benefit from the government is covered under the law.
We are just implementing an existing law and trying to ensure that federations abide by the provisions.
Ministers in the Cabinet had objected to the 70-year age bar saying there is no such condition for MPs or any other elected representative?
You should understand the difference between elections to Parliament and to sports bodies. They (federations) say that office-bearers of federations are democratically elected. This is correct but the electorate is restricted. In BCCI elections everyone cannot vote. Only members are allowed and no ordinary citizen or former cricketer can become a member. This is why we have introduced a 25% quota for sportspersons. The BCCI is an administrative body and rules of retirement for judiciary (65 years) and bureaucracy (60 years) should apply. What we have proposed is not from the sky. We adopted the tenure guidelines applicable to the International Olympic Committee's charter.
The Cabinet ministers opposing the Bill described it intrusive. Do you agree?
It is their opinion. The law ministry has vetted the draft Bill and other ministries, such as Home Affairs, approved it. We had provided a chance to the federations to present their views in the Mukul Mudgal Committee. Forty four federations supported the tenure conditions. The BCCI should have raised objections there. To me, the Bill is not at all intrusive but we will examine the minutes of the Cabinet meeting to find out which are the most objectionable points and will redraft the Bill accordingly.
When will the redrafted Bill be presented before the Cabinet?
I hope before the start of the Winter Session of Parliament (in November end).