BCCI will certainly come under RTI, asserts sports minister Jitendra Singh

Jitendra Singh (Photo courtesy: DNA)

Sports Minister Jitendra Singh says BCCI cannot be an exception to RTI in a chat with Chander Shekhar Luthra.

Union Sports Minister Jitendra Singh offers a straight bat on the issue of bringing the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) under the ambit of the Right to Information (RTI) Act. In an exclusive interview, the minister said the proposed New Sports Bill 2013, which will be brought before the cabinet soon, will not keep BCCI out of the RTI ambit.

“I cannot give you a time frame, but can only say that all sports federations will be brought under the RTI ambit. The BCCI will certainly not be an exception for sure,” he said. “The BCCI will certainly have to come under RTI, but that will only happen when the New Sports Bill 2013 will come into effect.”

Clarifying that the government was not helpless when it came to the BCCI, the sports minister said since the RTI issue is under a stay from the Madras High Court, it is only logical to wait till the stay is vacated before acting on such contentious issues. He said the ministry has received suggestions from all stakeholders on the New Sports Bill and has given two weeks to his staff to list them.

“As soon as we finalise the draft, we will take the Law Ministry’s approval and place it before the cabinet,” Singh explained.

The BCCI does not take any grant from the government and therefore, the Sports Ministry has no control over it. It cannot take any action against the cash-rich association either.

However, he has been keeping an eye on the recent imbroglio in the BCCI where its president N Srinivasan is being questioned over his son-in-law G Meiyappan’s involvement in betting in the Indian Premier League (IPL). The Supreme Court, too, recently observed that there was something seriously wrong with BCCI.

The minister said it’d be appropriate to wait for the court’s decision on BCCI. “The matter is sub judice and I don’t think I can voice my concerns before the judgment is out. However, there is no doubt that the current mismanagement and charges of corruption and nepotism has shamed not just the cricket body but also sports and its management in the country,” he said.

Measures to cleanse the sport are on the offing. He said his ministry has already given suggestions on the bill related to betting and match-fixing. “The Law Ministry should bring it before the cabinet soon,” he said.

Sachin Tendulkar’s visionary document to integrate sports into the education system has already been included in two schemes.

“His first suggestion is coming before the cabinet and the second has been implemented in the district schools scheme. Both his suggestions have been implemented,” he said. 

On the deadlock between the International Olympic Association (IOA) and the International Olympic Council (IOC), the minister said he’s hopeful that the impasse will end soon and India will be part of the Olympics again. The IOC has given IOA time till November to sort out the issue. “Why should our sportspersons suffer because of their federation’s fault? Despite the IOA’s suspension, we have made sure that our athletes get all the facilities — from training to getting foreign coaches…”

The International Boxing Federation has given a November deadline to the Indian Boxing Federation (IBF) to hold its elections as per the new guidelines failing which Indian boxers will not be able to participate in global events. He thinks the federation will elect its president before that. “That is why the Sports Ministry suspended the Indian Boxing Federation. We hope this matter will be settled now.”

Welcoming the decision of sportspersons like Krishna Poonia and Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore to contest elections next year, the minister said: “I think we should have people from all walks of life… We need all the skills in Parliament. It’s a good thing. I am also a sportsperson have contested an election.

(Chander Shekhar Luthra is a staffer with DNA from where the above article has been reproduced with permission)