The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), albeit grudgingly, might finally be falling in line with the Lodha Committee recommendations on administrative reforms. But that can’t be said about the 46-odd national sports federations (NSFs), which continue to flout norms of good governance, even as the sports ministry tries its best to nail them.
In this backdrop, the Supreme Court has sought a response from the Centre as to why the Lodha Committee recommendations for organisational reforms cannot be extended to all NSFs.
The bench of Chief Justice Jagdish Singh Khehar, Justice NV Ramana and Justice DY Chandrachud has now asked the government to respond to a petition filed by, among others, Ashok Kumar, the son of hockey wizard Dhyan Chand, as to why NSFs cannot be brought under the ambit of the recommendations.
The issue has long been debated at various public forums and the Delhi High Court, to name a few, but when it comes to good governance, those who run sports in the country wriggle out under the garb that it is a State subject and that the Centre has limited powers unless sports is brought under the Concurrent List. This is a long process and requires a constitutional amendment.
Besides, most of the NSFs are signatories to the National Sports Code, which lays out age and tenure only for principal office-bearers, such as the president, secretary-general and treasurer. All other posts, such as senior vice-presidents and joint secretaries among others, don’t come under the purview of the Code. This is where the Lodha panel recommendations can ring the death knell for NSFs, which continue to have septuagenarians and octogenarians as office-bearers in positions other than the three principal designations.
However, in the wake of the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) episode, where Suresh Kalmadi and Abhay Singh Chautala were made life presidents of the national Olympic committee (NOC), raising a furore, sports minister Vijay Goel constituted a panel to suggest improvement in the Code and functioning of sports federations.
Even though a positive step has been taken, a lot needs to be done to rein in these federations. Issues like conflict of interest have not been addressed in the Sports Code, while it is the key recommendation of the Lodha panel.
Not to forget the “one-state-one-vote” recommendation of the panel. While the BCCI has been hit hard, it could virtually cripple the NSFs, which promote factionalism in state associations and favour those willing to offer allegiance, planting their proxies from every state, even if those people have lived all their lives in Delhi!
The Lodha panel could well be the antidote to such maladies.
Key National Sports Code recommendations
The Sports Development Code bars more than 12 years of tenure for president and eight-year terms for secretary and treasurer. All other office-bearers are exempt from the tenure clause. While the maximum age tenure has been capped at 70 for the president, secretary and treasurer, no such age limit applies to others.
The Code does not talk about conflict of interest, neither does it delve into the issue of whether government officials, including members of parliament or legislative assemblies among others, can become office-bearers or not.
It does not also talk about ‘one-state-one-vote’, which the national federations conveniently use as a carrot and stick.
Key Lodha panel recommendations
The Lodha panel recommends a maximum of three terms for all office-bearers with a cooling off period of three years after every term.
The Lodha panel wants BCCI to stringently follow the ‘one-state-one-vote’ policy
The panel has effectively tackled the conflict of interest issue among administrators by restricting one person to one post in cricket administration.