While the sports ministry has refused to give concessions on the issues of age and tenure of office-bearers of the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) and the national sports federations (NSFs) in its revised national sports legislation draft, uploaded on its website on Friday, it has “streamlined” a lot of clauses, which were the sticking points between the government and the IOA/NSFs.
The Sports Dispute Settlement and Appellate Tribunal, which was to adjudicate on disputes between IOA office-bearers and between IOA and NSFs among others, has been made independent of the ministry’s interference in the revised draft.
It has now recommended that the tribunal be headed by a person of the level of Chief Justice of India or his nominee, with secretaries of sports, law and justice, personnel and training and the secretary-general of the IOA as its ex-officio members.
The revised draft has also done away with the clause for instituting a ‘sports ombudsman’, which would have given players the opportunity to air their grievances before the appellate body if the NSFs turn a blind eye. Vidushpat Singhania, who has helped the ministry frame the revised draft, told HT that the government realised "the NSFs had an in-house mechanism in place to deal with such issues."
In the earlier draft, all NSFs had to agree to the institution of ombudsman to ensure resolution of athletes' grievances through arbitration and mediation. The decision of the ombudsman was to be final and binding on all parties.
Singhania said wherever there was a possibility of government interference, the revised bill has minimised it. “We have made concessions on the RTI front too, and the IOA and the NSFs have been excluded from disclosing sensitive issues such as selection of teams, World Anti Doping Agency (WADA) activities etc. All the other issues would, however, come under the RTI ambit,” he said.