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Exploring And Analysing Sports Laws In India

In terms of cultural, social, and sporting history, India has long been a world leader. With its diverse cultural and sporting past, it has always set an example for the rest of the world. It produced eminent athletes in a variety of sports who made significant contributions to the field.

From Major Dhyan Chand's three Olympic gold medals to the Indian Cricket Team's world cup victories at Lords and again in 2011, Indian athletes have always flown the Indian flag high. Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar and Milkha Singh (the flying Sikh) have long been role models for the new generation. Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar, the living legend, received the first Bharat Ratna in the sphere of sports.

Due to its proximity, the grandeur of Indian sports has outshined India in the world. Sports have been one such arena in India, where there have been both horizons and obstacles. The government of India regulates and monitors Indian sports through autonomous sports federations, which are monopolistic in nature and character in their particular sports fields.

It's not as though Indian Sports hasn't had its share of stumbling blocks and imperfections. The problem of these National Sports Federations' responsibility and openness has been put to the test in the public eye. The regulations governing sports in India have taken a long time to come into effect.

Sports have long been a contentious cornerstone of Indian law, with an unresolved position. Litigation and legal conflicts in many sports have forced the judiciary to step in and umpire the game. The introduction of the Indian Premier League sparked a lot of excitement and enthusiasm among the general populace.

The current spot-fixing and betting schemes, on the other hand, have engulfed the entire event in scandal and criticism. Similarly, India's hosting of the Commonwealth Games in 2010 earned it a reputation for corruption and scandals.

The public prosecution of the game's organizers on charges of corruption tarnished India's sports image around the world. As a result of the repercussions, the International Olympic Committee banned the Indian Olympic Association and demanded that it have free and fair elections to keep its membership. Another factor contributing to the fall of sports spirit in India is the dispute between sports bodies and players.

Another issue contributing to the fall in quality-oriented sports in India is the current situation of players at both the national and state levels.

This research paper deals with the critical issues about sports and analyses sports laws in India. It sheds light on the current status of sports and investigates the reasons for it. It proposes key sports reforms for the rebirth of India's sporting glory. Until the daybreak of change takes over the might, the audacity of hope will continue to shine.

Sports Law In India

The power of the Parliament and the State Legislatures to make laws relating to sports is reflected in the Indian Constitution.[1] In India, however, no such substantial governmental law exists to regulate the sphere of sports. In the past, the Ministry of Sports and Youth Affairs has written and issued extensive guidelines known as the "National Sports Development Code of India" in response to successive National Sports Policies in 1975, 1988, 1997, and 2001.

These sports codes have been published in the Indian Gazette for all National Sports Federations to follow. Various states, such as Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, and Haryana, have exercised legislative power in their respective jurisdictions and established legislation regulating sports activity, such as registration, regulation, and recognition of Sports Associations (Uttar Pradesh has since repealed the Act).[2]

Following the 2001 guidelines, the government took several major steps, including declaring National Sports Federations (NSFs) that receive government funding as public authorities under the Right to Information Act of 2005, imposing an age and tenure limit on NSF office bearers, notifying and enforcing the NADA Anti-Doping Rules, introducing guidelines for preventing age fraud in sports, and establishing guidelines for holding fair elections.

These guidelines are intended to promote good governance among NSFs as a means of increasing their autonomy in carrying out their functions and duties by the Olympic Charter and the basic principles and rules that govern the Olympic movement, as well as in the interest of sports development in general and athlete welfare in particular. A substantial number of federations have either embraced or declared their plan to adopt the good governance principles communicated by the Government from time to time, which is welcomed.

Athletics, Badminton, Boxing, Golf, Hockey, Gymnastics, Rowing, Shooting, Tennis, Volleyball, Weightlifting, and Yachting are among the federations responsible for major sporting disciplines. National Sports Development Code 2011[3] was created by compiling all previous instructions into a single document to improve conformity with the basic global principles of good governance in sports, hence promoting a strong sporting culture and sports excellence in the country. Another law, the Right to Information Act of 2005[4], allows access to information regarding the operations of National Sports Federations that receive subsidies from the federal government.

Sports Policy In Major Games

Indian Hockey: Hockey is India's national sport. It is a sport that has produced legends such as Major Dhyan Chand. For his country, he won three Olympic gold medals. Sports, which were once the pride of India, have regrettably lost their worth and become unpopular in the country. In contrast to cricket, the calibre of Indian hockey has deteriorated.

The conflict between the Indian Hockey Federation (IHF) and the Federation of Indian Hockey (FIH) is well-known, and it has lowered the standard of hockey in India. Even though the FIH is India's only recognized and sole governing organization for hockey, the dispute between the two federations has created severe concerns for the sport's future.

To prevent further decline of hockey in India, the Delhi High Court[5] and the Ministry of Sports and Youth Affairs intervened. Without a doubt, hockey has lost its lustre and is no longer the same as it was during the Dhyan Chand period. Hockey players' living conditions in India have deteriorated due to the federation's internal politics. The lack of control and regulation was at the root of the Hockey disaster. In the Hockey Federation, there has been a leadership vacuum. The only option is for the entire federation to be restructured with public accountability.

Commonwealth Games 2010

In October 2010, India hosted the historic Commonwealth Games. It was the largest Commonwealth Games ever, with 6,081 competitors from 71 Commonwealth nations and dependencies competing in 21 sports and 272 events. It was also the largest international multi-sport event ever held in Delhi, surpassing the Asian Games in 1951 and 1982. Even though India did a fantastic job hosting the Games, the games cast severe doubt on the country's capabilities and efficiency.

The entire game was overshadowed by allegations of corruption, an exaggerated economic budget, infrastructure compromises, and delayed arrangements. Even then-Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh paid a personal visit to the games site to help speed up the preparations. The indictment of game organizers for corruption ushered in dark days for Indian sports. The national sports federations have an obvious lack of administrative efficiency and coordination.

As a result of India's failure to meet its Olympic charter duties, the International Olympic Committee had no choice but to expel the country from the games. At the International Sports Forum, Indian sports were embarrassed. In India, there was no formal authority, rule, or regulation to control sports, further dampening the idea of Indian sports. The manner in which events unfolded shattered India's goal of hosting the International Olympics. Unfortunately, the Indian Olympic Association is more concerned with court cases and litigation than with the development of sports in India.[6]

Board for Control of Cricket in India (BCCI)

The Board for Control of Cricket in India (BCCI) is the governing body of cricket in India. The BCCI is a private organization that claims to be the controlling authority for cricket in India. Its Memorandum of Association[7]

States that its objectives include controlling the game of cricket in India, resolving disputes and making decisions on matters referred to it by any State, Regional, or other Association, promoting the game, framing the laws of cricket in India, selecting teams to represent India in Test Matches and other events, and appointing India's representatives to the International Cricket Conference and other conferences/seminars, all of which are related to cricket. The supreme court of the country awarded BCCI the leverage and legal standing of being a private organization in the matter of Zee Telefilms vs. Union of India.[8]

It has always dodged public scrutiny and accountability at the behest of this momentous decision. Several RTI cases have been filed with the board and the Chief Information Commissioner. The cricket board's engagements and activities, financial transactions, public accountability, and transparency of decision-making are all unregulated, even though it performs "public function" on a huge scale.

Even though it is a "private body," the Board has consistently opposed any inspection or audit of its accounts. Justice S. B. Sinha and Justice S.N. Variava[9], in their dissenting opinion, held BCCI liable under the "public function test." It considered BCCI's public functions, with the Minority Bench observing that a body performing public responsibilities and exercising monopoly power would constitute an authority under Article 12. The BCCI has responsibilities such as governing and regulating cricket. It has the last say in cases involving the selection and disqualification of players, umpires, and those involved in the game, as well as their right to free expression and occupation.

It makes the law on the subject which is essentially a state function in terms of (Entry 33) List-III of the Seventh Schedule11 to the Constitution;12 it thus acquires the status of monopoly.13 BCCI has framed In terms of (Entry 33) List-III of the Seventh Schedule[10] to the Constitution[11], it creates law on the topic, which is basically a state function; it thereby gets monopoly status.[12] In exercising its functions under the Memorandum of Association, the BCCI has drafted rules and regulations.

It carries out the BCCI's powers and duties, which include arranging, controlling, and regulating visits of foreign cricket teams to India and visits of Indian teams to foreign countries, permitting or refusing any visit by a team of players to a foreign country or to India, framing the laws of cricket in India, and making changes to those laws, To take disciplinary action against a player or a member of the Board of Directors, etc., amendments or additions to the laws of cricket in India are made whenever desired or appropriate.

It's also worth noting that, with the advent of the IPL, BCCI's power has grown by leaps and bounds. According to the decision in Secretary, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Government of India and Others v. Cricket Association of Bengal and Others, the game of cricket incorporates both the broadcaster's and spectators' rights.

The right to transmit a sporting event will thus include the right to educate and teach current and potential athletes interested in the game, as well as to inform and entertain fans of the game.) It is the only organization that governs television and broadcasting rights, as well as the rights of people to watch matches on television and other visual media.[13]

It has authority over franchises, endorsements, prize money distribution, player selection, and disqualification, among other things. As a result, BCCI has complete monopoly power. However, it is not constrained by any effective laws, rules, or government control, and it is not required to operate fairly and decently under Article 14 of the Constitution.

According to a minority viewpoint, performing a public function in the context of the constitution would entail allowing an entity to act as an authority under Article 12, which would subject it to constitutional basic rights discipline. There are no regulations other than acting properly and reasonably.[14]

Controversy in the Indian Premier League: The Indian Premier League is no stranger to controversy. However, on May 16, it faced perhaps its most serious crisis when three Rajasthan Royals players - Sreesanth, Ajit Chandila, and Ankeet Chavan - were detained for spot-fixing by Delhi Police shortly after their match in Mumbai. Eleven bookies were also detained at the time, including one former Royals player, Amit Singh.

The Royals' players were then suspended, and the BCCI launched an investigation into the claims, which was led by ACSU chief Ravi Sawani. The board also declared that anti-corruption procedures will be strengthened, with each club receiving two additional security staff. The arrests sparked a nationwide hunt for the arrest of bookies, which is banned in India.

A small-time actor, Virender "Vindoo" Dara Singh, was arrested in Mumbai on suspicion of having connections with bookies. On May 24, authorities arrested Meiyappan Gurunath, a prominent official of Chennai Super Kings and the son-in-law of BCCI president N Srinivasan, based on his statement.

The players, along with 39 others, were finally charged under sections of the Indian Penal Code and the Maharashtra Control of Organized Crime Act by the Delhi Police (MCOCA). After Sawani's probe found them guilty of rigging[15], the BCCI constituted a probe panel and handed out life bans to Sreesanth and Chavan.

However, the board's own investigation panel into claims of betting and spot-fixing in the IPL season six betting and fixing scandal cleared former BCCI President N Srinivasan and Rajasthan Royals co-owner Raj Kundra. The Bombay High Court declared the investigative panel "illegal and unconstitutional" in July 2013.

The court questioned the findings of the investigative panel, which found that Board President N Srinivasan's Chennai Super Kings and his son-in-law Gurunath Meiyappan were not guilty. The HC panel rejected the BCCI's argument that it could not be sued in court for an IPL-related problem, saying the matter was within the court's jurisdiction and in the "greater public interest," and that the cricket board was "answerable." It also refused to grant the BCCI a stay on its order.

Mukul Mudgal Committee

The Supreme Court of India constituted a one-member committee headed by Justice (Retd.) Mukul Mudgal to investigate charges of betting and spot-fixing in the Indian Premier League in October 2013 in response to a BCCI plea (IPL). In February 2014, Justice Mudgal filed his report to the Supreme Court. The report's specifics have not been made public.[16]

The Honourable Supreme Court of India is presently hearing the case. Opinion:
The fact that the Board for Control of Cricket in India (BCCI) still lacks transparency and accountability after the Zee Telefilms judgment in 2005 is a harsh truth. The Union Ministry of Sports and Youth Affairs attempted multiple times to bring the BCCI under the Right to Information Act of 2005. The central sports ministry is debating whether or not to introduce a sports bill to hold the BCCI accountable. However, the Ministry's efforts were thwarted due to significant opposition and exertion of influence by the Manmohan Singh government's board of directors.

The board has been claiming to be a private group to avoid public responsibility and scrutiny. The board must undoubtedly respond to a slew of questions concerning its operations, as it has sparked widespread skepticism. How can a body that performs a monopolistic role, has a direct relationship with the public interest, receives low tax funds, and provides security for events not be held accountable?

The claim that it is a "private body" contradicts its exclusive nature of functions. The board is regarded as one of the richest and most powerful cricket bodies in the world, according to the International Cricket Council (ICC).

It enjoys de facto recognition from the government and performs functions that are sovereign in character. Why should BCCI be given elite exclusive status when other sports bodies, such as the Indian Hockey Federation, Indian Golf Federation, and Indian Olympic Association, have been forced to adhere to the "Nation Sports Development Code2011"? The IPL brand has helped the cricket board gain more clout in Indian sports. The recent spot-fixing and betting scandals remind us that the time has come for the Indian government to exert its authority and draught a standard sports law for the entire country.

Powers to govern and regulate sports in India must be given to the Ministry of Sports and Youth Affairs. It must also have the authority to act in cases of power abuse, fraud, and corruption. The promotion of the rule of fairness and fair play by sporting bodies/federations is in the national interest.

Conclusion
In times of crisis, there is always an opportunity. All that is required is the resolve to succeed and the ability to lead. In this reform debate, we must remember that our greatest national asset is that we have the world's youngest population. Sports are an example of an area that has to be reformed and aligned with the younger generation. There is a lot of potential for bringing sports into the mainstream.

This is where the law may make a significant contribution to the promotion and welfare of sports in India. The Parliament must discuss and implement a uniform sports law to unite all sports, games, and any other connected or incidental subjects under one umbrella, just as there has been a long debate for a law on Uniform Civil Code.

This standard regulation has the potential to make Indian sports federations more transparent, accountable, and open to public inspection. A National Sports Authority, which functions as a regulator and coordinator in the sphere of sports, is urgently needed.

When athletes retire from their professional careers, they frequently become celebrities and ribbon-cutting personalities. It is past time for their wisdom and experience to be recognized and put to good use by the nation. As a result, these athletes should make up the members of the sports authority.

Their input of knowledge and experience will only benefit the country's sports development. Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa, popularly known as the BRICS nations, have had the honor of hosting the International Olympic Games. South Africa is a strong contender for the 2024 Olympic Games. India, on the other hand, is an outlier, as its social, political, and economic circumstances have put it behind in the race. The Commonwealth Games debacle was a prime example of how India's image on the international scene has deteriorated. Law has the potential to help achieve the goal of hosting the International Olympic Games.

As previously stated, legislative amendments will increase openness and accelerate the growth of sports culture. The sports legislation has the potential to integrate the sports industry into the mainstream of the economy. It has the potential to develop jobs as well as platforms for international sports training. In the field of sports, foreign direct investment should be encouraged.

When it comes to constitutional issues, the preamble's goals, fundamental rights, and state policy direction principles can all be realized by following the principle of equality, justice, and fair play. At the top, there has been a shift of power. A new government has been installed.

Correlating Law with Sports has the potential to bring about reformative reforms. There is a lot of room for sports culture to be instilled in schools and educational institutions. For India's sports culture to grow, a "National Sports Policy" should be developed. The health and fitness of the younger generation should be prioritized. To motivate our future generations, there should be a concept of "marks for sports" in educational institutions. We can be a world leader in sports by planning for the future today.

Bibliography:
Sources:
  • Newspaper Articles:
    • BCCI suspends Rajasthan Royals' Sreesanth, 2 others after arrest for spot-fixing. Mumbai: Hindustan Times. 16 May 2013.
    • SC asks Srinivasan to step down as BCCI chief". The Hindu. 25 March 2014
    • India tries to put modern face forward for Games. The Express Tribune. 27 September 2010.
    • Commonwealth Games security lagging. Ndtv.com. Retrieved on 6 July 2010.
    • CBI to file chargesheet in Queen's baton scam". The Times of India. 9 August 2011.
    • Trouble for Kalmadi, CBI files another FIR in Swiss firm deal case". The Indian Express. 24 August 2012.
    • Ready to postpone WSH till March, organizers tell the court. Indian Express. 8 December 2011.
    • Delhi HC paves way for players' participation in World Series Hockey". Times of India. 13 February 2012.
  • Internet Sources:
    • T.M.C. Asser Institute
    • http://www.sportslawindia.info/sportslaw.htm
    • Business News Today: Read the Latest Business news, India Business News Live, Share Market & EconomyNews | The Economic Times (indiatimes.com)
    • http://www.ndtv.com/photos/sports/indian-hockey-crisis-talks-fail-6617
Full coverage of the IPL spot-fixing allegations (espncricinfo.com)

End-Notes:
  1. (Entry-33) Concurrent List- III of Schedule-VII, Constitution of India, https://www.mea.gov.in/Images/pdf1/S7.pdf
  2. Uttar Pradesh (Registration, Recognition and Regulation of Association) (Repeal) Act, 2007
  3. National Sports Development Code of India-2011 (Ministry of Sports and Youth Affairs, Govt. of India)
  4. Press Information Bureau Release: 69503 (Ministry of Sports and Youth Affairs)
  5. Mr Narinder Batra Versus Union Of India Lnind 2009 Del 331
  6. Madhya Pradesh Triathlon Association Through Its Secretary & Versus Indian Triathlon Federation & Others Etc Lnind 1996 Sc 1882
  7. Surinder Singh Barmi Versus The Board Of Control For Cricket In India Lnindord 2017 Cci 57
  8. M/S. Zee Telefilms Ltd. And Another V. Union Of India And Others - Lnind 2005 Sc 101 1
  9. Supra 5
  10. Supra 1
  11. Supra 5; Para 173
  12. Supra 5 Para 227 and 229
  13. The Secretary, Ministry Of Information &Broadcasting, Vs. Cricket Association Of Bengal & Anr. - Lnind 1995 Sc 231 1
  14. Supra Note 5 Para 137; Ramana Dayaram Shetty v. International Airport Authority (1979) 3 SCC 499 at 503.
  15. ESPN News Report; http://www.espncricinfo.com/indian-premier-league-2013/content/story/636375.html
  16. Board of Control for Cricket Versus Cricket Association of Bihar and Others [2016] 5 MLJ 774

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