With the drama involving the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) and the Indian Premier League (IPL) unfolding in the backdrop of the IPL spot-fixing scam, the shelved National Sports Development Bill seems to be back in the limelight.
Sports Minister Jitendra Singh, while condemning the "shameful" incidents that had overtaken the game, urged for "greater transparency" in sports and related bodies. He said the sports Bill was being revisited to inject "transparency" into sports and sports associations.
The Bill seeks to put in place compulsory elections, 25 per cent representation of sportsmen in executive committees, an ethics committee in line with the Ethics Code of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), a sports Dispute Appellate Tribunal and, most important, it will work towards keeping out conflict of interest.
It was in 2011 during Singh's predecessor Ajay Maken's tenure that the sports Bill was first envisaged to cover all national sports federations. However, with controversial clauses such as fixing the age and tenure of office-bearers, some politicians who headed cash-rich sports federations, including the BCCI, opposed the Bill, describing it as an attack on their autonomy. The Bill never passed muster in the Cabinet.
Sources say the reconstituted drafting committee is still deliberating on the inclusion of BCCI under the ambit of the Bill. However, it is unlikely that political interests will manage this time to again hijack the Bill and keep out cricket from its purview, said sources.
The reconstituted drafting committee under retired Judge Mukul Mudgal (who drafted the first draft) has been consulting a wide array of experts, including sportspersons.
The current Bill brings in several new elements. For the first time, it proposes a Sports Dispute Appellate Tribunal for easier redressal of disputes; an election commission that will ensure elections in these bodies are held by neutral bodies.
The committee is due to report by June 30 to the sports ministry.
Aspects of the Bill, such as the proposal for the ethics committee, will then be discussed with the IOC to ensure it was on a par with international standards.
Talking to Business Standard, Kirti Azad, former cricketer and BJP's member of Parliament, described BCCI as the Brotherhood for Control of Cricket in India. "The brothers being (Arun) Jailtley, (Sharad) Pawar, (Rajeev) Shukla, united in corruption, united in alliances and united in resignations."
Azad added the game was in "such disrepute it will be difficult for BCCI to object their inclusion under the proposed sports Bill".
Apart from the diktats of the sports Bill that sports federations would have to abide by, it would also be incumbent upon them to give disclosures under the Right to Information Act, something that cricket bodies have been resisting on the plea that they are not funded by the government.
However, if one were to go by the "indirect funding" in the form of tax concessions, play grounds and sports stadia at concessional rates, the BCCI would, then, arguably be beneficiary of government funding.
The challenge is to bring in cricket, which is easily the highest income grosser in sports, under the ambit of the sports Bill.