New law on spot-fixing by August, says Sibal
New Delhi: Amidst the uproar over IPL spot-fixing, the government today asserted that it would make efforts to put in place by July or August the new standalone law to deal with such "unfair practices" but ruled out promulgation of an ordinance on it.
Law Minister Kapil Sibal, who initiated the process of framing a new law to tackle match-fixing and spot-fixing, said the government will hold consultations with all political parties and other stake-holders to ensure it sails through smoothly in Parliament.
In an interview, he agreed that such a law has been "much-delayed" as match-fixing allegations had first surfaced in the 1990s when Indian cricket team was touring Australia.
"We are keen to pass this law in July-August (when Parliament is expected to meet for Monsoon Session)," Sibal said about the new broadbased legislation which will cover all kinds of sports.
There will be a definition of "dishonest practices" and will include any gesture or act which can change the course or outcome of a match or a tournament.
It will deal with corporates, bookies, criminals besides the players, including international players.
Sibal ruled out promulgation of an ordinance, a route taken in case of urgency of any law, arguing that the present IPL tournament ends today.
The Law Minister said the first draft of the bill will be ready in a few days and it will be sent to the Sports Ministry for opinion of experts and others concerned.
Consultations will also be held with all political parties, he said. "We will not move forward till all stake-holders are consulted... If there is a political will, it can be passed," Sibal said, while emphasising the government is committed to enacting such law.
He said the main Opposition party BJP is on board on the broad issue of bringing the new law but details of the legislation needed to be discussed with all parties.
While not discussing the details of the proposed bill, he said it should not be "too draconian to dampen the spirit of sports" or "too lenient so that people feel they can get away". There should be a "balance" in this law.
Explaining the necessity of the new standalone law, Sibal said the present laws are not sufficient. He said Section 420 in IPC is the nearest to deal with such offences "but it has not led us anywhere."
"The new law will help investigators while dealing with such unfair practices," he added.
Sibal, a noted lawyer, said the IPC could have been amended to deal with such offences but Attorney General G E Vahanvati strongly favoured bringing a new standalone law.
Asked whether such a law has been "much-delayed", the Law Minister said, "Yes, I believe it is....This whole thing (match-fixing) came to light for the first time in mid-1990s when Indian team was touring Australia.
Since then we have been grappling with the issue as to which government has the authority to draft such a legislation."
He said there have been debates as to whether such a law should be framed by the Centre or the States as sports falls in the State list.
However, the decision was taken that the Centre should frame such a law under `residual powers` as the jurisdiction of such offences goes beyond states and even has international ramifications, Sibal said.
He mentioned that Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley, who met him on Friday, also favoured such a law, saying states would not be able to check such activities which have national and international dimensions.
In his opinion, Vahanvati said the proposed law will apply irrespective of whether or not betting or gambling are legal. The government`s top law officer also said that "corruption can exist even if no gambling is involved."
The Law Minister said in an era of latest technologies, any act or gesture using any means which results in dishonest practice will come under the wide definition of the new law.
The AG`s opinion was sought as the government was not sure whether the Centre can enact a law on dishonesty in sports as sport is a State Subject under the Constitution.