Executive Summary of Changes made in the National Sports Development Bill, 2011

NSFs to be Public Authority Under RTI Act /  Age & Tenure Norms to Stay / Executive Body to have 25 Percent Athletes & Elections to be Conducted in Fair & Transparent Manner through Secret Ballot

The Union Minister for Youth Affairs & Sports ( I/C) , unveiled the revised draft National Sports Development Bill , 2011 here today.  Giving the details of modifications made in the Bill at a press conference, the Minister  said that efforts have been made to streamline the Bill, while retaining its basic principles of transparency, good governance and de-control from Government intervention. Serious consideration has been given to remove the perception that the Sports Ministry was seeking to directly interfere in sports.  He further informed that the draft Bill has also been sent to Indian Olympic Association and all recognised National Sports Federations by post and e-mail seeking their comments/suggestions within two weeks.

Summary of broad changes made in the Bill:

The discretion of the Government to recognize National Olympic Committee and National Sports Federation has been eliminated. In the event the Central Government feels that these criteria have not been met or there is any other discrepancy/dispute, the Central Government can refer the matter to an Independent Appellate Sports Tribunal [Section18(4) & Section 23];

 A provision of deemed registration has also been inserted in the Bill in order to avoid duplicity of work. A certificate of registration once issued would continue to be in force until the time such a registration is suspended or cancelled by the Appellate Sports Tribunal [Section 19 & 22];

 In order to retain funds for the development of sports in the country, a provision has been made that all penalties that are levied by the Appellate Sports Tribunal would vest with the National Sports Development Fund Scheme; [Section 50]

Whereas at one end transparency has been sought to be inculcated by the applicability of the provisions of the Right to Information Act, 2011 to the sports federations, an exclusion clause has also been provided to protect certain information which are peculiar to sports, which may be used by our competitors against our athletes. These are:

a.  Queries pertaining to selection, appointment or exclusion of athlete, coach, trainer or physiotherapist when it for participation in an athletic competition;

b. Queries pertaining to the quality of performance of an athlete in an athletic competition;

c.  Queries relating to medical health and fitness of an athlete;

d.  Queries relating to whereabouts of an athlete;

e.  Queries pertaining to information which is confidential under the NADA code.

It is however to be noted that this exception in the Right to Information Act does not bar the aggrieved party in initiating action against any erring party whether it is the Sports Authority of India, National Olympic Committee, National Sports Federation or the Central Government. [Section 47]

 In order to streamline the Bill, the offices of the Sports Ombudsman and the National Sports Development Council have now been removed. The office of the Sports Ombudsman has been removed in order to accommodate the formation of the Indian Court of Arbitration for Sports by the Indian Olympic Association. The other duties of these bodies have either been allocated to the National Sports Federation itself or the Appellate Sports Tribunal;

The sport sector worldwide is structured in a very peculiar way, where the Court of Arbitration for Sports based in Lausanne has an exclusive jurisdiction to decide certain disputes. In order to retain this worldwide structure a provision has been inserted in the Bill excluding the jurisdiction of the Appellate Sports Tribunal in these cases; [Section 28]

 The independence of the Appellate Sports Tribunal has sought to be ensured in totality. Therefore the power to appoint the Chairperson and other members of the Appellate Sports Tribunal has been granted to an independent Selection Committee which is to be chaired by the Chief Justice of India or his nominee and also has a representation from the National Olympic Committee. The discretion to remove a member of the Appellate Sports Tribunal now vests with the Chief Justice of India who would be conducting a enquiry according to a specific procedure laid down by him; [Section 30 & 35]

Clarity has been inducted in the provisions of the Bill, which now bars the Minister in charge of department of sports or any other official of the department of sports in the Central Government or an officer of the Sports Authority of India to contest election in a National Olympic Committee or the National Sports Federations for a period of five years; [Section 24(3)]

Specific clause has been inserted in the anti doping provision to exclude applicability of those provisions of the WADA/NADA Code to which an International Federation is not subject.  This has been done since NADA functions under the WADA Code and if at the International level there are certain provisions of the WADA Code to which the International Federation is not subject, then the logical corollary is that those provisions should not be administered by NADA on the sport of that National Federation.  [ Section 15(1)]

 The eligibility criteria for the National Sports Federation to get recognition have been reduced for instance the criteria stating that the National Sports Federation should have been in existence for three years has been deleted. This has been done in order to promote new sports which are developing/being actively played in India to be recognized by the Government; [Section 20]

The detailed provision requiring the approval of the Central Government for the formulation of the Long Term Development Plan and the appointment of an Government Observer to monitor the adherence to this LTDP has been removed, in order to secure the autonomy of the sports federations;

 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 secure the availability of playing fields to the athletes; [Section 3 & 12(b)]

 A duty has been enjoined upon the coaches, guardians and other support personnel to prevent unethical practices in sports like doping, fraud of age and sexual harassment; [Section 15,16 &17]

 The Central Government has undertaken a duty to specifically promote Paralympic and Special Olympic Sports; [Section 3(2)(f)]

The Central Government has also undertaken a duty to make provisions for continuing education of the athletes, healthcare and pension for the athletes. [Section 3(2)(e)]

Shri Maken further stated that it is the endeavor of the Government to make India a prominent player on the global sporting arena. This can only be done when transparency, unbiased decisions, democratic elections and joint development of sports is inculcated. The Bill seeks to align the sports movement in a structured way that the Central Government, Sports Authority of India, National Olympic Committee and the National Sports Federation can work together for the overall promotion and development of sports. The Bill recognizes that at the core of sports development are the athletes and effort is being made by the Bill to give them a say in running the sports as well as secure better welfare measures for them.

The revised draft for National Sports Development Bill has been uploaded on the web site of this Ministry: http://www.yas.nic.in for comments/suggestions within 15 days of its publication, i.e. up to 29.10.2011.  The comments/suggestions may be sent to Joint Secretary (Sports), Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports, Room No.504 “B”, Shastri Bhavan, New Delhi or through Email at js-sports@nic.in.

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Book on Kesavananda Bharati case to be released on Tuesday

J VENKATESAN IN THE HINDU

A 13-judge Bench of the Supreme Court, the largest so far, decided the Kesavananda Bharati case after hearing arguments by eminent lawyers spread over 66 days. The judgment, delivered by a majority of 7:6 on April 24, 1973, held that Parliament could not alter the basic structure of the Constitution by an amendment. Chief Justice of India S.H. Kapadia will release a book dealing with this case at a function here on October 18. The senior advocate and former Solicitor- General, T.R. Andhyarujina, has written the book, explaining the culmination of a struggle for supremacy over the power to amend the Constitution between Parliament and the government on the one hand, and the Supreme Court on the other.

Mr. Andhyarujina says: “This book is a gripping story of the conflict and tensions in the Kesavananda Bharati case and its aftermath, which has not been disclosed so far. It is based on the author’s recollection and [the] detailed notes maintained by him as counsel in the case, and on later interviews by him with some of the judges in the case.” The book reveals that prior to the hearing, the government attempted to influence the court by appointing judges who it expected would decide in its favour. It shows the preconceived views of some of the judges on Parliament’s power to amend the Constitution, the internal conflicts and factions among the judges, and the charged atmosphere in the court till the delivery of their judgments.

In the words of Mr. Andhyarujina, the battle began when the Supreme Court, in the Golak Nath case in 1967, held that fundamental rights could not be amended by Parliament. Parliament and the government were not reconciled to the ‘view by majority’ in the Kesavananda case and were determined to get it overruled. On the day of the judgment (April 24, 1973), the government superseded three senior-most judges, who had decided against the government and appointed Justice A.N. Ray as the next Chief Justice on the retirement of Chief Justice S.M. Sikri. In 1975, with the help of Mr. Ray, the government tried in vain to reverse the majority view in the Kesavananda case by another Bench of 13 judges.

However, during the emergency, the government nullified the Kesavananda case judgment by the 42nd amendment, but this was overruled in the Minerva Mills case in 1980, when Y.V. Chandrachud was the Chief Justice. Mr. Andhyarujina says the purpose of the book, coming as it does after 38 years of the event, was “an interaction of constitutional law with the politics of the day; the story of the Kesavananda case requires to be widely known.” Though such an exercise is being done in the United States, it has not been done in respect of any leading case in India, hence his attempt.

http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/article2543671.ece