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Turning pro or endorsing products: Khattar govt caught in a cleft stick

On June 8, the CM had put on hold notification on service conditions as per which they will have to give the state 33% of income earned through professional sports and commercial endorsements

india Updated: Jun 15, 2018 12:16 IST
Hitender Rao
Hitender Rao
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
Khattar govt,BJP government,Haryana
Haryana chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar (HT File)

The BJP government in Haryana seems to have been caught in a cleft stick by ordering a review of the April 27 notified service conditions for government-employed sportspersons as per which they will have to give the state 33% of the income earned through professional sports and commercial endorsements, for the development of sports.

Hindustan Times first reported the imposition of new conditions for employed sportspersons.

Following an irrational outcry by the sportspersons, chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar had last week put the service conditions on the hold. A week later, the state government is yet to make up its mind on what to do with the service conditions.

The chief minister though tweeted on June 8 to put the notification in this regard on hold, no formal orders to this effect were issued on the file.

Olympian boxer Vijender Singh, wrestler Geeta Phogat and hockey international Sardara Singh, all Haryana government employees, would have been impacted by the new service conditions.

Options before govt

The state government primarily has three options before it. It can withdraw the notification, stick to it or modify it. However, a decision to withdraw or modify the service conditions will have repercussions.

The service conditions were introduced to legitimise the income earned by government-employed sportspersons who turned professional and took part in commercial endorsements.

What if conditions are withdrawn

“If the government withdraws the service conditions, it would mean that employed sportspersons can earn money freely through endorsements and professional sports. This would be a clear violation of the service rules which prohibit such earnings,’’ said an official familiar with the issue.

For legitimising such earning, the service rules will need modification to exempt the sportspersons. Also, this will open a pandora’s box as other employees who are bound by similar service rules would protest and enter into litigation.

Breach of undertaking before high court

A decision, if taken, to allow sportspersons to freely earn through endorsements and professional sports would also be a breach of the commitment made by the state government before the Punjab and Haryana high court.

The Haryana home department in a statement before the HC had said that considering the fact that such sportspersons have a limited shelf-life at the international and national level, the service/conduct rules governing such sportspersons recruited at different levels need to be modified to allow them leave, special leave and permission to sign contracts, endorsements, participate in professional games at different levels.

The one-third condition

The condition of depositing one-third income earned through professional sports and commercial endorsements with the government are applicable for every government employee under the provision of Punjab Civil Services Rules (as applicable to Haryana).

The April 27 notification listing conditions for sportspersons employed by the government who participate in professional sports or commercial endorsements is an interpretation of those provisions.

Rule 5.55 of Punjab Civil Services Rules say that a competent authority may permit a government employee to receive an honorarium as remuneration for work performed which is occasional or intermittent in character and/or of such special merit as to justify a special reward. The acceptance of remuneration, however, has to be first approved by the competent authority. The rules also say that one-third of the total amount of any fee or remuneration ..... paid to a government employee shall be credited to general revenues.

First Published: Jun 15, 2018 12:16 IST