1. SPORTS LAW UPDATES
A. SPORTS FEDERATIONS
i. The Hon'ble Madras High Court (MHC) has ordered that only sports person may be appointed as office bearers in sports' federations and has mandated, inter alia, online registration for sports meets.1
The MHC in the case of S. Nithya vs. Ministry of Youth Affairs & Sports & ors. [W.P No. 3447 of 2019], ordered that the positions of president, vice-president and secretary of all sports clubs, associations and federations in the State must be held by sportspersons, only, and not by politicians or business persons. Furthermore, it was also ordered that the selection of athletes for district, state and national-level events must be done strictly on the basis of merit, and it should be within the purview of the decision-making powers of the selection committees comprising of only sportspersons.
All selections shall be done after implementing an online registration system and the details of funds allocated and the amount spent on each athlete, for participating in such event, must be published on the website of the relevant sports body in the State.
Furthermore, the hon'ble court directed that any complaint pertaining to nepotism, favouritism etc., must be disposed of within a week. Enactment of a comprehensive law on the foregoing subject was also recommended by the hon'ble court.
ii. The Hon'ble Delhi High Court (DHC) asks Amateur Kabaddi Federation of India (AKFI) to consider conducting national championship:2
The DHC, admitted a batch of 9 petitions concerning the applicability of the National Sports Development Code of India, 2011 (Sports Code) to AKFI. These petitions also involved the allegations of irregularities in the agreements signed for Pro Kabaddi League (PKL) between AKFI and Mashal Sports (the rights holder of PKL). Further, during the pleadings, one of the issues raised was pertaining to the dispute regarding affiliation and non-affiliation of some of the Sate bodies. It was also highlighted that this dispute caused certain meritorious athletes the opportunity to participate in competitions. Addressing the foregoing issue, the Hon'ble DHC requested the administrator of the AKFI to consider conducting an open national kabaddi championship.
iii. The Hon'ble Delhi High Court (DHC) suspends Table Tennis Federation of India (TTFI):3
On the basis of the report of a committee, appointed by the court to look into the allegations of matchfixing and conflict of interest levelled by paddler, Manika Batra, the DHC suspended the current TTFI executives and appointed a Committee of Administrators (COA). The court also observed that the national coach was appointed in conflict of interest since he was running a private academy in his own name as well. The COA, inter alia, will be incorporating a code of ethics for TTFI and work towards streamlining the processes for selection, camps, and domestic tournaments to improve the functioning of the federation.
iv. Hockey India (HI) challenged Central Information Commission (CIC)'s decision before the Hon'ble Delhi High Court (DHC).4
HI approached the DHC challenging an order of CIC, directing it to disclose information such as list of its members' and employees' salaries. CIC's decision came ahead of an RTI application filed by Mr. Subhash Agrawal, whereby he was not provided with the requested information and approached the CIC for relief. It was claimed by the representatives of HI that CIC's order was arbitrary, illegal and unreasoned and contrary to Section 8(1) of the RTI Act (exemption given from disclosing information). However, no interim relief was granted to HI.
v. All India Football Federation's (AIFF) announced committee to look into the conduct of its elections:5
In 2017, a Public Interest Litigation was filed in the DHC claiming that the AIFF elections held in December 2016 were flawed, as the constitution of the AIFF was not in accordance with the Sports Code. The DHC removed the committee members from holding their respective posts, however, the matter was appealed at the Apex court, where the order of the DHC was reversed.
The state member associations' demanded that elections be held, and as a result the AIFF formed a 3-member panel to hold discussion with its legal advisors and help expedite the process of conducting elections.
The decision to form the panel was taken during the federation's Annual General Meeting after some state associations inquired about why the AIFF has not held the elections which were due in December 2020. The matter (i.e., application seeking certain clarifications on the current status of the AIFF's constitution and elections process) is now pending before the Supreme Court.
The four-year term of the current executive committee of the AIFF ended in December, 2020 and under normal circumstances, in accordance with the National Sports Development Code of India, 2011, the elections should have been held at the expiry of such term.
vi. New Loan Regulations in Football to be introduced from July 2022:6
Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) passed a new regulation pertaining to the loan of football players. It was observed that the wealthier football clubs were hoarding talent and loaning it out to smaller clubs to reap benefits. Such a practice disrupted the competitive balance of the sport. Thus, the new regulations have been introduced with a view to develop young players, promote competitive balance and prevent hoarding. The regulations will be submitted to the FIFA Council for approval before July 2022. The new regulations include the requirement of a written agreement specifying the particulars of the loan, a minimum loan duration, a prohibition on sub loaning, a limitation on the number of loans per season between the same clubs and on the total number of loans a club can undertake per season.
- Clubs will be limited to a maximum of 8 players loaned in and 8 players loaned out at any one time in the 2022-23 season.
- The quotas will be cut to 7 in the season after and 6 from the season starting after July 1, 2024.
- Clubs will also be restricted to the number of deals they can do with a favoured trading partner in another country: 3 players in and three players out at any given point with the same club.
- Short-term deals should also be barred. The minimum loan deal will be between two transfer windows — typically these are in January and June-August during the European offseason — and the maximum period will be 1 year.
- Sub-loaning of a player already sent out on loan will be barred.
- Exemption – the regulations do not apply to players aged 21 and younger, and club-trained players.
i. Hike in Sports Budget and recommendation for steps for promotion of animation, visual effects, gaming, and comic (AVGC) sector.7
The Union Budget, which was presented in the Lok Sabha by the Finance Minister on February 1st, 2022, allocated an additional sum of Rs 300 crore for sports as compared to last year. The total budget allocated for sports now stands at Rs 3062.60 cr. The amount allocated to the National Youth Empowerment Program has also been increased this year (from 108 crores to Rs 138 crore). The Khelo India programme's budget has also been increased from Rs 879 crore to Rs 974 crore this time.
An AVGC promotion task force, with all stakeholders, will be established to recommend ways to realise this and build domestic capacity for serving out markets and the global demand. It is expected that this move will help India achieve its potential of 20 lakh jobs in the sector.
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2. W.P.(C) 8915/2019 & CM APPL.36773/2019, 53240/2019, 53241/2019 & 53316/2019; (http://delhihighcourt.nic.in/dhcqrydisp_o.asp?pn=26262&yr=2022)
5. (https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/sports/football/top-stories/aiff-announces-election-panel-states-seek-clarity-on-its-ambit/articleshow/89569306.cms); (https://www.the-aiff.com/article/aiff-agm-2022-held-in-mumbai)
7. (https://www.thehindu.com/sport/union-budget-2022-sports-budget-increased-by-30558-crore-emphasis-on-khelo-india-and-national-youth-schemes/article38358810.ece); (https://yas.nic.in/sites/default/files/Outcome%20Budget%202022-23.pdf)
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