Sports Law in India: Aditya Aryan

Sports Law In India

Author: Aditya Aryan

ICFAI Law School, Dehradun

ISSN: 2582-3655

Abstract: Sports have been an essential part of human life since the very beginning and a prominent component of overall human evolution and good health. In primitive times sports emerged as a major source of entertainment as a way of socially meeting others, displaying skills, and power, and in entertaining others. Similarly in India sports have been considered as a source of entertainment. The approach of the general public in our country has always been casual. The issue and problems relating to sports have always been considered as secondary issues in India’s socio-legal-political sphere. Now, gone are those days when sports used to be just a source of entertainment, now according to an estimate of the united nations, sports contribute up to 3% of global economic activity. The United Nations [UN] in its resolution 58/5 adopted by its general assembly has acknowledged sports as a means of promoting health, education, peace, and growth[1] , and therefore the countries should have a vested interest in matters and issues related to sports. This article envisages to explore the condition of sports law in India and check out the roadmap ahead for sports governance in our country.

Keywords: Sports law, sports welfare, sports governance, sports commission, sports policies.

Introduction: India a country with unity in diversity is home to a varied population that is enthusiastic about sports. The administration and funding of sports are allocated with the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports that is presided by the cabinet minister and controlled by National Sports Federations. Sports law is the field of law that is applied in the area of sports, physical education, and related fields. It is a pure law as opposed to the theoretical law and evaluates how the law, in general, connects with the venture of Sports[2]

Sport since the very beginning of human evolution has been a form of pleasure, relaxation, entertainment, and refreshment but with passing time sports have evolved. India is reckoned as one of the best places to hold international sporting events. Due to this fact, a need is realized to control and manage the laws in the field of sports and to eliminate the grey areas.

Sports Law In India: Sports law in our country consists of a collection of court cases and policies formulated by the central government. Our country does not have a law in the field of sports, what we call as sports law is also borrowed. Sports are scheduled under state subject in the constitution of our country under entry 33, making us think that the center does not have locus standi to legislate on the matters relating to sports. 

The ministry of youth affairs and sports were formulated by the central government to create infrastructure and to promote capacity building and also for attaining excellence in competitive events being held at national and international levels. The responsibility is upon the national sports federations to promote sports across the country. The Ministry of Sports and Youth Affairs under the government of India from time to time issues notifications and guidelines for regulating NSFs.

  1. Sports Administration In India: 

The sports structure of our country is based on 3 tier principles i.e. the clubs [grass root level], district sports federation that collectively combine into state sports federation, the state sports federation then collectively forms national sports federation.

The sports activities are administered by:

  • Sports Authority Of India
  • Sports Law And Welfare Association Of India
  • Sports Broadcasting Signals (Mandatory Sharing with Prasar Bharati) Act, 2007
  • The Prevention of Sporting Fraud Bill 2013 [Proposed]

1.1       Sports Authority Of India: The sports authority of India [SAI] was established by the government on 16th March in the year 1984 to look after the infrastructure created for the 9th Asian games. Sports Authority of India was set up with the main objective of the proper execution of existing schemes, development, and promotion of various sports activities. To support people in conducting research work which is done to develop sports and games. To look upon construction and utilizing the residential amenities meant for players and other support staff who are active in sporting activities in some way or other. In developing utilizing different types of infrastructure and facilities that are required for holding sports events, construction of different amenities where the training of sports events can be imparted, to make rules and regulation of necessary assistance required to conduct tournaments at different levels, conducting conferences through which various aspects relating to sports can be brought up and to arrange funds so that the tournaments can be organized.

Sports Authority of India is divided into 4 wings and all the wings perform different functions. The 4 wings are the Academic wing, operation wing, team wing, and stadia wing.

1.2       Sports Law and Welfare Association of India (SLAWIN): The Sports Law and Welfare Association of India is a national non-profit and professional organization that works with the main aim of bringing Legal Practitioners and Sportspersons together. Their main work includes the understanding of the ethical practice of Sports Law for the promotion of Sports in our country and provides their consultancy on matters like regulation of sports governing bodies, issues relating to sports and law, intellectual property in sports, etc.

1.3       Sports Broadcasting Signals (Mandatory Sharing with Prasar Bharati) Act, 2007: The Sports Broadcasting Signals (Mandatory Sharing with Prasar Bharati) Act was passed in the year 2007 to grant access to a larger number of audience to sporting events of national importance via compulsory sharing of broadcasting signals with Prasar Bharati. The Act says that without sharing the broadcasting signals with Prasar Bharti a live broadcast of sporting events of national importance on any D2H, cable network, or any radio commentary broadcast will not be transferred by any content right holder, television, or radio broadcasting service supplier.

In the case of Ajay Jadeja v. Union of India,[3] a new era of legal reforms in sports started taking shape. Integrity issues towards sport, lack of genuine investigation, the procedure for handling the complaint, investigation procedure were highlighted in the wake of IPL, and numerous other controversies attached to it. In the said case, the Delhi High Court stated that sporting bodies perform numerous public functions and therefore they are subject to writ jurisdiction under the High Court. The principle of the case was upheld in Zee Telefilms v. Union of India by The Apex Court.

The apex court directed the Law Commission to analyze whether BCCI is a public authority or not and to provide recommendations accordingly in 2016. Law Commission through its 275th report provided a recommendation that BCCI must be brought under the purview of the RTI Act 2005.  Further, The Law Commission stated that BCCI is qualified enough to be considered ‘state’ under Article 12 of the Constitution of India. If the said recommendations of the Law Commissions are accepted and BCCI is regarded as a public body coming under the purview of the RTI act, then BCCI will be responsive to PILs in the Supreme Court and the High Courts.

1.4       The Prevention of Sporting Fraud Bill 2013: It is a Bill formulated by the Youth Affairs & Sports Ministry under the Government Of India. The Bill was in light because, in the IPL match-fixing scandal, the governing officials were asked to use the provision from the statute of the IPC and Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA), 1999 to penalize the culprit. However, none of these statutes covers crime and fraud in sports.

The Bill states and defines the Sporting Fraud and contains the rules and regulations of penalty to the culprits and imposes the Jurisdiction of Courts to judge the matter. The Bill states for a maximum punishment of 5 years with a fine of Rs 10 Lakhs or five times the monetary benefits carried out by the person from sporting fraud, whichever is greater.

The Bill has also been called The Anti-fixing Bill that will make sure that every National Sports Association in India including the BCCI will come under the purview of this proposed law.

National Sports Federations: The primary authority and control for the overall management, direction, regulation, and supervision of the promotion and discipline, sponsorship, and development of discipline will be on the National Sports Federation. They are formed to release these responsibilities in conformity with the principles entrusted in the Olympic Charter or the Charter of the Indian Olympic Association in consonance with Government regulation applicable to the National Sports Federation.

National Anti-Doping Agency: The central government has formulated the National Anti-Doping Agency (NADA) as an autonomous body. It includes people from government and non-government agencies, scientists from the field are also present in the agency as experts, and also members from the Indian Olympic Association. In the past, controversies surrounding the intake of dope by sportspersons are common and in this light, the National Anti-Doping Agency formed. NADA assists in the management of the sports activities so that it can be made non-controversial and corruption-free.

National Sports Policy: The Policy was formulated in the year 1984. The main aim was to raise the standard of Sports. It provides for a review of the progress in its execution in every five years so that the future course of action can be determined. In clear terms, the main aim of the policy includes broad basing of sports, proper integration of sports with education, infrastructure development, excellence in sports, and the overall development of the National Sports Federations. Training of coaches, sports scientists, umpires and referees, judges, incentives to sportspersons, But the Policy was not executed properly at that time. Therefore, Again, in the year 2001, the National Sports Policy was drafted to reformulate the National Sports Policy of 1984.

Issues In Sports Law: The field of sports law is very new in our country and continuously, there has been a detailed discussion and deep research into this. Contrary to having numerous federations and several independent bodies in India, our country is lacking behind in having a high-quality sports system and as a result, it fails in the major event due to the absence of accurate consistent, and stable law for sports. There is not a single body or legislation under which the ministry, and the sports federation, mainly the National Sports Federation will come.

In past, the negative side of the competitive world has come into the picture which clearly shows the mishandling of the sports law, like the Olympic Games Scandal, recent IPL scam, FIFA scandal, allegations of sexual assault are a few of those misconduct happened.

However, the main loopholes that sports law face includes employment and labor issues, drug use, sports injury, rights related to broadcasting, harassment in sports, etc. The continuous failure of our country in sports events is a sign of heavy corruption and below-par infrastructure. Therefore, the need of the hour is to formulate and enact proper legislation to revive the activities of sports in India.

Recommendations of Mukul Mudgal Panel: In the year 2012 some of the well-known players were alleged to be involved in receiving money for match-fixing during the Indian Premier League (IPL). The BCCI then formulated a committee to inquire and deal with those players. The Committee after completing the inquiry penalized those players in the form of a ban. However, the decision of the committee was challenged before the Bombay High Court but the Court dismissed the petition. A petition was filed before the apex Court of India for quashing the decision of the committee formulated by BCCI and for constituting an independent committee for further investigation into the issue raised. The apex Court then formulated the Mukul Mudgal Panel, which was a multi-member panel. Along with the report of inquiry the Panel also submitted recommendations and other conclusions that the measures which are undertaken by BCCI to control sporting frauds are ineffective and unfruitful, they also recommended that player’s employment in franchise group companies must be avoided. There is an immediate need for stern and effectual control on Players.

Recommendations of Justice R.M. Lodha Committee: In January 2015 as a result of the Justice Mukul Mudgal Committee report Lodha panel was formulated. One of the most important significant recommendations the Committee made was the formation of different governing bodies for BCCI and IPL. They also recommended that the constitution of a Player’s Association should be to safeguard the interest of the cricketers. The Committee also suggested a reduction in the number of members in the Working Committee and its governing council.

Conclusion: The procedure of sports law revolution has gained rapid momentum, but the conclusion that there has not been single dedicated legislation dealing with sports law is a disgrace in itself. Despite numerous scams in various sports activities and competitions during the recent years, no stern consideration on the formulation and enactment of sports law has been undertaken by the government. At present any legal facet of sports overrun with the rules of that particular sport alongside other legislations like the law of contracts, labor law, and competition law. Sport in India is a rapidly growing industry not only just because of sports played but also because of the vast media coverage it receives and the enormous amount of money it draws in. A few years back choosing sports as a career was heavily criticized but it is evident now that people are making quality careers within. A sporting prospect needs competitive compatibility, and the present rules and regulations formulated to fulfill a market need needs to be amended. It is a field of research that is deserving of definition and in-depth study, practice, and inquiry.

Suggestions:

There is a dire need for a dedicated sports law in our country. Sport is included in the State List of the Seventh Schedule (entry 33) of the Constitution of India. There was a proposal in the past to include sports in the Concurrent List as then both state and centre will be competent to make laws on sports affairs but the government was unsuccessful in doing so.

Therefore, the Parliament should mandatorily enact dedicated legislation in the field of sports. Under the enactment, there should be a provision relating to the constitution of a Sports Commission. The National Sports Federation will be liable to the Commission for its operations. The Commission would be there to advise the related ministry I.e. Ministry of Sports and Youth Affairs related to sports, should support talent identification and promote and encourage development and participation in sports at all levels. The commission should also ensure enough allocation of funds and resources to national and state sports federations and their affiliated bodies, they should also supervise and take the proper course of action to ensure the ultimate use of funds allocated by the Commission to sports federations, and they shall also be responsible to administer the execution of sports policies in India.

Alongside with the center and State Governments, the association of the Panchayat Raj, local Bodies, Educational Institutions, and Sports Federations in the creation, proper usage, and maintenance of the Sports infrastructure in rural and urban areas is also need of the hour.

The sports federations and its affiliates should not be let autonomous and must be registered under the legislation in the place of the Societies Registration Act. The distribution of funds to federations should be distributed through the Sports Commission formulated under the Act. These federations must be answerable to the Sports Commission in respect of funds allotted to them. The Sports Commission should have the competence to investigate any exploitation of funds.

The Sports Commission must have the competency to carry execute dispute resolution. It shall be competent to create panels for adjudicating the disputes and penalize culprits for violation of the code of conduct and other offenses.

Sexual harassment of sportsperson by coaches although covered under the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition, and redressal) Act 2013, still the reporting rate of this type of case is very low. There are only a handful of cases where the players come forward on their own to report and take strict actions against the accused who harassed them. The reason for such a low reporting rate of cases is the relationship between the coaches and their players. There are times when the whole career of the player depends upon their coach and thinking about their future career many players choose not to disclose and report such a case.

The implementation of sports law should be a priority also due to the reason that there are numerous issues which need our attention which includes infringement of media ethics, employment issue, organizational issues, sports injuries related to the issues of liability, sports policies in relation to the competition law.

An organization like Sports Authority of India [SAI] should be under the control of the Sports Commission and must aim at conducting sports activities in India.


[1] Available at http://www.un.org/wcm/content/site/sport/home/resourcecenter/resolutions/pid/19431

[2] Available at http://www.asser.nl/sportslaw/about-the-centre/community/national-sports-law-associations/sports-law-welfare-association-of-india-india/

[3] Ajay Jadeja v. Union of India95 (2002) DLT 14

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