Proposed sports bill evokes sharp reactions and debate
New Delhi: The proposed sports bill which seeks to regulate the operations of BCCI and other national sports bodies on Tuesday prompted sharp reactions from cricket administrators and triggered a debate on whether the law could be binding on the cash-rich Board.
While the BCCI maintained that the proposed bill, if and when passed by Parliament, will not have any bearing on it since it was neither in the list of National Sports Federations (NSFs) nor took government grant, some top government officials insisted that the law will be the same for all the sports bodies.
The bill seeks to bring about transperency and accountability in the functioning of national sports bodies and bring them under the purview of the RTI. It will also ensure tenure and age restrictions for the top office-bearers.
The bill is placed before the cabinet and, if approved, it will be introduced in Parliament in the ongoing monsoon session itself.
The proposal to regulate sports bodies has gained significance in the wake of the corruption scandals that dogged the Commonwealth Games.
The BCCI, however, is quite clear that the bill would not be binding on it.
"I have not seen the draft bill but I know it is to be discussed in the cabinet... How can BCCI be under RTI when it does not take any grant from the government," BCCI Vice President Rajiv Shukla said.
"There is a Supreme Court ruling which says that if you don`t take any grant, you can not come under RTI", Shukla said.
Sports Secretary Sindhushree Khullar said the BCCI is not in the list of NSFs nor has it ever sought itself to be brought under the wing of NSF.
"Firstly, the BCCI has never wanted to be a part of the National Sports Federation (NSF)," Khullar told PTI on the sidelines of a seminar organised by the Confederation of Indian Industries.
Asked specifically whether the BCCI would be brought under Right To Information (RTI) act if the bill is passed, she said "a sports federation can only be brought under RTI provided they are under NSFs."
She, however, sidestepped the issue about whether ministry would walk an extra mile to get BCCI under the NSFs as the cricket body neither receives any financial grants from the union government nor tax exemption facilities.
"While drafting of sports bill, all the sports bodies in our country made presentations. The BCCI was represented by Mr Arun Jaitley," she said.
Another top Sports Ministry official was, however, very categorical and insisted that the law will be applicable to BCCI and all other NSFs.
"Once it becomes the law of the land, it is applicable to all national sports bodies. BCCI is the national sports body for cricket and it will be binding on it", the official said.
"Under the RTI, if you take government aid or exemption, directly or indirectly, you fall within the purview of RTI.
The BCCI had been granted tax exemptions while hosting the World Cup in the country earlier this year", the official added.