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Cricket: BCCI

BCCI frets over Sports Bill


Can the new sports bill clean the BCCI's Augean stables?
SAYAN GHOSH | Issue Dated: July 28, 2013, New Delhi
Tags : BCCI | Sports Bill | RTI | Team India |

The long chain of scams involving misuse of funds by the Board of Control for Cricket in India may finally be coming home to roost. Perturbed by the mismanagement at the country premier sporting federations as well as by the shenanigans involving the BCCI, the Union Sports Ministry, led by Jitendra Singh, is contemplating to legislate the Draft National Sports Development Bill 2013, which could set the country’s most powerful sports body at odds with the sports ministry. The draft suggests that only those federations that come under the Right to Information Act will have the right to use ‘India’ as the team’s name.

Clause (h) of the proposed Bill is particularly worrying for the BCCI as it states: “In order to represent India in international events and to have a right for a particular sport federation to use ‘India’ or ‘Indian’ in the sport scenario, the federation shall have to comply with Chapter IV (Unethical practices in Sports) and Chapter IX (Applicability of Right to Information Act).” As the BCCI is not a registered national sports federation and as it does not take government grant, it cannot be brought under the RTI ambit. But if the Draft Sports Bill is finally passed by Parliament, then Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Co. can’t officially represent ‘India’ at international tournaments. In Kolkata, BCCI’s interim chief Jagmohan Dalmiya declined to comment before having a detailed look at the document.

However, one BCCI official echoed the body’s mood, saying “We have taken a unified stand on resisting any kind of government interference.” Obviously, the Bill has set the cat among the pigeons and BCCI officials are agitated that a parliamentary approval for the Bill could lead to a severe curtailing of their powers and privileges. The silver lining, however, is that several lawmakers have opposed the Bill and may try and resist it from being passed in Parliament. On the other hand, if the Bill passes muster, there is every likelihood that the BCCI will have to change its management and governance style, which could drastically alter its current shape and form in the future. 

Given the provisions of the proposed Draft National Sports Development Bill, though it is generic to all National Sport Federations, it is being interpreted as an attempt by the Sports Ministry to take on the BCCI. The Sports Ministry has however allayed such apprehensions and its official line has been that the clauses in the Bill are in conformity with the spirit of the International Olympic Committee. But given the growing trend of increased government meddling in the affairs of the country’s sporting bodies, any attempt by the Sports Ministry to dabble in BCCI’ s functioning should not come as a surprise. If the hypothesis is correct, it naturally raises serious concerns for the autonomous functioning of India’s sport federations.  However, if the proposed Bill has an objective of cleaning up the BCCI’s scandalous closet, it is a step in the right direction even though there is no reason to conclude that government interference will make India’s richest and often controversial body spotless.

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Issue Dated: Feb 5, 2017