Cabinet rejects bid to control cricket

The proposal, which aimed to bring the sports bodies under federal transparency and accountability laws, was proposed by Sports Minister Ajay Maken

New Delhi: Aug 30, 2011

The controversial Sports Bill, apparently aimed at reining in Sports Federations and possibly have a government grip over BCCI, failed to get Cabinet nod on Tuesday with a number of Ministers heading sports bodies strongly said to be opposed to it.

At the Cabinet meeting chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, the National Sports Development Bill, steered by new Sports Minister Ajay Maken, was discussed and a number of ministers raised objections, sources said.

Subsequently, it was decided that the bill should be re-worked by the Sports Ministry before it could be again considered.

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

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

Besides these Ministers, Praful Patel, who is the 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 the bill.

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

One of the minister had strong reservation on the age restriction clause and said it was 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 tried to curb their 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 today, would have been introduced in the Parliament in the ongoing monsoon session itself and could have had a bearing on the tenures of several seasoned adminstrators 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 adminstrators maintained that it would not be binding on the Board which does not take 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 said on Monday that the Bill once passed in the Parliament would bring in more accountability in the functioning of the NSFs.(PTI)