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No clearance for National Sports Bill

Last updated on: August 30, 2011 21:23 IST

The controversial Sports Bill, apparently aimed at reigning in sports federations and possibly giving the government a grip over the Board of Control for Cricket in India, failed to get Cabinet nod, after a number of ministers who head sports bodies are believed to have strongly opposed it.

Sources said the National Sports Development Bill was discussed at Tuesday's Cabinet meeting, chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, and several ministers raised objections.

Subsequently, it was decided that the bill should be re-worked by the Sports Ministry beforeĀ being discussed again.

Opposition to the bill came mainly on issues like preserving the autonomy of sports bodies and age restriction on sports administrators.

Sharad Pawar, former BCCI chief and current ICC president; Farooq Abdullah, president of the Jammu and Kashmir Cricket Association; C P Joshi, president of Rajasthan Cricket Association, and Vilasrao Deshmukh, president of the Mumbai Cricket Association, areĀ among those who expressed opposition to the bill.

Besides these ministers, Praful Patel, who is chief of the All India Football Federation, Kapil Sibal and Kamal Nath were opposed to the bill.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Home Minister P Chidambaram were said to be in favour of it.

The bill seeks revolutionary changes in the functioning of sports bodies in the country, which include putting an age limit of 70 years and tenure restrictions, besides bringing these bodies under RTI.

One of the ministers had strong reservations on the age restriction clause and said it is a very subjective issue.

The Indian Olympic Association (IOA) and several other National Sports Federations had vehemently opposed the bill ever since the drafting stage, saying it was an attempt to interfere in the functioning of the bodies.

The IOA had also said that the move was against the Olympic Charter and India could be banned from international sports events if the government tries to curb its autonomy.

Cricket administrators had also reacted sharply to the proposed bill which sought to put it under the purview of the RTI.

The bill, had it been cleared by the Cabinet, would have been introduced in Parliament in the ongoing monsoon session itself and could have had a bearing on the tenures of several seasoned administrators, like Suresh Kalmadi, V K Malhotra, Yashwant Sinha, Jagdish Tytler and Virendra Nanavati, who have been at the helm of their respective federations for decades.

It could also have brought the cash-rich BCCI under its fold though cricket administrators maintained that it would not be binding on the Board which does not receive any grant from the government.

The Sports Ministry will now fine-tune the bill and take into consideration the objections raised by the ministers, which means that it may not be possible in the ongoing session of Parliament.

Sports minister Maken had on Monday said the Bill once passed in Parliament would bring in more accountability in the functioning of the NSFs.