Delhi High Court rejects plea by Indian Olympic Association against National Sports Code
A bench of justice S Ravindra Bhat and Nazm ati Wajiri of the Delhi High Court rejected petition filed by the Indian Olympic Association against attempt by the Centre to bring transparency in sports through the sports code bill. The government had approved the National Sports Development Code, 2011, which barred a tenure of more than 12 and 8 years for the post of President and other office-bearers (including Secretary and Treasurer), for any sports federation with an upper age limit of 70 years for the officials. The High Court dismissed the argument that sports are a state subject and the Centre was prohibited from regulating the sports bodies. The major proposals in the legislation are:
· to bring all National Sports Federations (NSFs) availing government grant under the Right to Information (RTI) Act
· implementation of NADA anti-doping rules
· guidelines for holding fair and transparent elections to NSFs.
· steps to check age fraud in sports.
· to control power-play and where money, influence and chicanery play a dominant part in sports
· the sportspersons of yesteryears to be recognised.
The Court reiterated its conclusion that international sports and regulation of NSFs and IOA in respect of the matters which are subject to these proceedings, falls within entry 97 of the First List of the seventh schedule of Constitution of India. The bench held that "The central government can insist upon adherence to these provisions, without the aid of legislation. It is also held that the Sports Code does not violate the freedom under Article 19 (1)(c) of the Constitution. Neither are its provisions arbitrary.......... Sports administration in this country appears to have reached depths from where neither sporting bodies nor the state seems to care any longer for the successive generations' sporting future. Reform is to be introduced urgently by the state. Sports administration appears to be mired in power play, where money, influence and chicanery play a dominant part and those who had participated in competitive sports at some stage are given token representation at best or are mostly marginalised..... Sports administration, the way it is run in India, through coteries, cabals, manipulations and intrigues seems to discourage a vast majority of population to devote itself to athletics, shooting, judo, soccer and the like........ Sports can be popularised and made successful when those who genuinely feel the need to inspire and attract talent and are themselves driven by inspirations, evolve policies that result in a range of sporting activities becoming as or even somewhat as rewarding as cricket ........ As a nation too, we should not be deadened to views that sportspersons sell their hard-earned medals to fight penury.”
The judgment is likely to aid in the reforms in sports planned under the National Sports Code.