Cabinet rejects proposed sports bill

New Delhi: A controversial bill, aimed at regulating the functioning of national sports federations and putting an age limit on their bosses, on Tuesday failed to go through Cabinet due to stiff resistance by a number of ministers.

At the Cabinet meeting chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, the National Sports Development Bill 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.

In the cabinet, at least three ministers – Vilasrao Deshmukh, C P Joshi and Farooq Abdullah -- head Cricket Associations while Sharad Pawar is the president of the International Cricket Council (ICC). Praful Patel is the chief of the All India Football Federation.

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.

Sources said that the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Home Minister P Chidambaram suported the bill but Sharad Pawar, Kapil Sibal, Praful Patel, Kamal Nath and Farooq Abdullah were opposed to it.

One of the minister had strong reservation on the age restriction clause and said age was a very subjective issue.

The Indian Olympic Association (IOA) and several other Ntional Sports Federations had vehemently opposed the bill 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 administrators 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.

Sports Minister Maken had on Monday said that the Bill once passed in the Parliament would bring in more accountability in the functioning of the NSFs.


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