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Sports minister unveils revised Sports Bill

Last updated on: October 17, 2011 23:04 IST

Sports Minister Ajay Maken on Monday unveiled a revised Sports Bill, saying it will enhance greater transparency in the functioning of sports federations.

However, the same old provisions to prevent life-time control of individuals over sports bodies was retained.

Nobody can hold office in the National Olympic Committee or any national sports federation after the age of 70 and all such bodies will have to conduct elections, at least once in four years.

The draft bill also mandates that presidents of these bodies can hold office for 12 years or three terms of four years each, with or without break. Others will have to give a four-year break after a maximum two terms before becoming eligible for re-election.

The 29-page draft bill, which has been mounted on the ministry's website (www.yas.nic.in), for comments and suggestions by October 29 before it goes to the Cabinet for approval, has also been circulated to the Indian Olympic Association and all recognised national sports federations, seeking their views within two weeks.

Transparency and good governance are key features of the bill, Maken told a press conference, while pointing out that it removes all apprehensions of the sports ministry trying to directly interfere in the functioning of the sports bodies.

It makes it clear that the sports minister, or any official of the sports department or Sports Authority of India, are debarred from contesting elections of national bodies for five years.

Ajay MakenIt incorporates 14 changes over the earlier blocked draft and these include dropped office of the Sports Ombudsman, a Lokpal for sports, in favour of formation of the Indian Court of Arbitration for Sports by the Indian Olympic Association on the lines of the Lausanne-based International Court of Arbitration for Sports based in Lausanne.

The draft bill stipulates recognition to one national federation for each of 66 sports and provides for formation of an independent sports tribunal for any disputes in the sports world. It also removes the government's discretion to withdraw recognition to any such federation, except to move the proposed tribunal.

Only the tribunal can suspend or cancel registration once granted to a federation. Disputes handled by the arbitration court will be automatically out of jurisdiction of this tribunal.

A radical proposal in the draft Bill is to make the Right to Information (RTI) Act inoperative in certain circumstances "to protect certain information which may be used by our competitors against our athletes".

This exception in the RTI Act, however, does not bar anybody from initiating action against any erring party, be it the Government of India, the government's Sports Authority of India, National Olympic Committee or any national sports federation.

To ensure independence of the tribunal, the draft says its chairman and members will be selected by a committee, headed by the Chief Justice of India or his nominee and representatives from the National Olympic Committee.

Their removal will also vest with the Chief Justice of India, after the due process of inquiry.

The draft bill also includes a specific anti-doping provision to exclude Indian sports persons from the applicability of the WADA (World Anti-Doping-Agentur) or NADA code, which the concerned international federation has not accepted.

It also enjoins a duty on the coaches, guardians and other support personnel to prevent unethical practices in sports, like doping, fraud of age and sexual harassment.

The provision for registering playing fields with the National Playing Fields Association of India has been removed.

Instead, the duty has now been enjoined upon the Central Government and the national sports federations to make available the playing fields to athletes.

Our Correspondent in New Delhi