Sports Bill, need of the hour

It should be ensured that power is not concentrated in the hands of a few, but others also get an opportunity to present their vision for Indian sport.

With the BCCI elections round the corner, several associations who have been disqualified from participating in the AGM are planning to challenge their ineligibility, in the Supreme Court.   -  PTI

The Board of Control for Cricket in India elections will be held shortly and already there’s plenty that’s been appearing in the media. The elections to the state association bodies have also taken place under their revised constitutions. The electoral officer has disqualified some associations from participating in the BCCI elections as these bodies had not changed their constitutions fully in line with the recommendations of the Justice Lodha panel that were accepted by the Supreme Court more than three years ago. Various state associations have gone to court over the interpretations of the recommendations. Even now there is no certainty if the elections will take place with several associations who have been disqualified from participating in the annual general meeting planning to challenge their ineligibility in the Supreme Court.

The English language is such that interpretations can vary from individual to individual. For example, a simple sentence such as “I like ice cream” can be interpreted in various ways by various individuals. It’s the thought and the spirit behind the sentence that had to be seen and that has not happened with the interpretation of the recommendations of the Lodha panel.

The other talking point is that in some associations, relatives of those who were earlier in charge, and who have had to step aside because of the Lodha panel recommendations of the age limit or term limit, have been elected to office. There is nothing wrong in relatives coming on board. Why should they be ineligible simply because they are related to the earlier office-bearers? They could bring a modern and different perspective to the administration of their state association which could actually benefit the game even more in the state. It is simply not fair to judge them even before they have taken office. Maybe after a year or so they can be judged as to what they have brought to the state administration.

The other issue that has been in the news is the conflict of interest petitions against some. Again there is nothing wrong in bringing these to the attention of the judicial officer, but there must also be a caveat to these petitions. If they are found to be without any basis, then the petitioner must also be taken to task simply because the liberty to file petitions can also be misused for personal vendetta. Like with various interpretations of a simple sentence in English, so also various interpretations of the term ‘conflict of interest’ can be made.

Hopefully when the new apex council is elected, they will make these issues a lot clearer and less ambiguous and less prone to different interpretations. The sad part in all this is that all these changes apply only to the BCCI and not to the other national sporting federations. So, what has been universally accepted as the best-run national sports federation is to undergo changes, but other Federations do not have to do so. The BCCI, even before the intervention of the Supreme Court, has always had a change in office-bearers every few years with fixed terms for even the President, while most other Federations have officials in powers with no fixed terms and, for sometimes as long as they live, and nobody has even mentioned it or found anything wrong with it. Surely the Supreme Court, when it gives a final decision, will also take note and give a verdict which is binding on all sports bodies and not just the cricket bodies.

There is every possibility that the government at the centre will bring a Sports Bill in the winter session of the parliament to ensure there is a level playing field in all sporting federations. The intention should be to ensure that power is not concentrated in the hands of a few, but others also get an opportunity to present their vision for Indian sport.