Author: Kavya Arora
Introduction Sports in India dates back to the Vedic era with Chess, Hockey and Wrestling as some of the leading games to have been originated in India. With the passage of time, the concentration has shifted from sports to academics leaving very little importance to sports. Apart from Cricket, India is lacking behind in major events including the Olympics because of the lack of regulations in India regarding Sports. From being a source of entertainment and recreation to developing into a competitive field with global view, sports is one of the biggest revenue collection industry in the world. The United Nations have also considered it to be a very important subject and has made various regulations regarding sports and its education. There is no comprehensive legislation in India regarding the same which is particularly needed at this time because of the controversies and scandals taking place, like the scandal of Olympics game bidding, the sexual harassment scandal involving the Women’s Hockey Team of India and many other similar incidents. Our resources have been drained due to the maladministration by the defective system. The dark side of sports have been exposed to the world because of trends like match fixing and payment by bookies. There should be competitive balance and proper regulations to guide the whole sports market. Significance and Need of Sports Law: With reference to India, sports has always been the criteria to recognize the full potential of an individual. It is also useful in development of a better physique, formulating the art of defense and it also helps a person in staying fit and healthy. Various federations for cricket, hockey, football, basketball etc. have been established in the country but even after this step the achievement or success which is expected is not achieved. This is mainly due to the lack of a proper legislation which would ensure proper discipline. There are no regulations to solve the problems from the root level. There is a need to develop a proper code to ensure that match-fixing, gambling, corruption and other such issues are resolved in a better manner. There is a need to define the rights and liabilities of those involved in the sports federation and those who are representing different States or the Country. There is a need to develop a platform where the issues revolving around sportsmen and federations can be resolved. A uniform code is required to ensure there is no breach of contracts and proper wages are given to sportsmen. Sports law should protect the sportsmen from harassment, regular check and balance should be maintained so that unfair means and practices could be reduced and proper punishments should be imposed. Also, issues like drug abuse by the sportspersons should be restricted and disciplinary actions must be taken at all times. Legislative View India lacks a national or state legislation for regulation of Sports within the country. However, The Ministry of Youth Affairs & Sports was set up the Government of India with a purpose to create an infrastructure and for promoting and achieving excellence in various competitive events at different levels. Various National Sports Federations were created for the promotion of Sports within the country. The ministry also issues notifications and guidelines for the regulation of these federations. In Indian Olympic Association v. Union of India, the Delhi HC upheld the validity of the National Sports Development Code which was enacted to govern the National Sports Federations in India. The federations are responsible to discharge their duties in accordance with the principles laid down in the Olympic Charter or the Charter of the Indian Olympic Association which is responsible for the supervision, control and management of the promotion, development and sponsorship of discipline in Sports. The Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports has the control over the administration and funding department and is headed by the cabinet minister and is also managed by the National Sports Federations. Further, Sports Law in India is governed and regulated by: National Sports Policy, 1984 The National Sports Policy, 1984 was formulated to upgrade the standard of Sports in India. The policy provided that progress under it is to be reviewed after every five years to determine the further process as necessary. The objective of this policy was to define the area of responsibilities of the agencies involved in promotion and development of Sports. To identify the National Sports Federations to set priorities and procedures to avail assistance and sponsorship. Further, it also states the eligibility for grant release to the federations. In accordance to this policy, the government aims at achieving excellence in sports at National and International level. After this policy only, the importance of sports was realised and it was included in the State list of the Indian Constitution, Entry 33 of Schedule 7. The government by the provisions of this policy aims to do excellent in sports on the global plane. The Sports Authority of India, 1984 The Sports Authority of India was set up in 1984, by the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports. It aims at bringing excellence in the field of sports all over India. It was established to fulfil the needs of an apex body to coordinate various sports activities in India. The government of India was motivated to promote sports and physical fitness all over the country after the success in the IX Asian Games which were held in Delhi, India. The importance of sports was realised and the same was promoted. The Sports Broadcasting Signals (Mandatory Sharing with Prasar Bharati) Act, 2007 The same was passed in 2007 with an aim to give access to the listeners and viewers by encouraging a large audience. It also covers various sporting events of National and International importance. It has mandatory broadcasting network related to sports and its related matters. It shares its signals with Prasar Bharati. The Act also provides that the content owner of broadcasting service provider cannot carry out a live TV broadcast of important national sporting events. But, for doing the same it has to share its live broadcasting signal simultaneously (except advertisements) with the Prasar Bharati. National Anti-Doping Agency (NADA), 2005 It was formed by the Union Government under the Societies Registration Act. It consists of scientists and representatives from the Indian Olympic Association. It was set up in furtherance of intake of dope by sportspersons and it also engages in the regulation of sports so that this field could be free from controversies and corruption. Along with this, the Sports law is a part of Entry 33, under the 7th schedule of the State list, of the Indian Constitution. But, no state has formulated any law regarding the same. Sports Law and Arbitration Whenever there is any dispute in Sports, the cases are referred to federations that govern that particular sport to resolve the matter at hand. At this level, when Sports is being recognised as a profession, another way of resolving matters is required. Here, dispute resolution techniques like Arbitration and Mediation are very useful. These dispute resolution methods offer diversity and the cases are resolved more rapidly. Professionalism and confidentiality are also maintained under this. With an increase in the disputes related to sports there is a need for an Independent authority which consists of experts that could handle such matter and give binding decisions. When such disputes are referred to courts, they take a very long time to get resolved and everybody at this stage is aware of the number of pending cases before the Indian Courts. There is a need for a quick and flexible authority that could give binding decisions. Additionally, arbitration exists for dispute resolution at an International Level through the Court of Arbitration for Sport. It has its headquarters in Lausanne, Switzerland and all International sports disputes are referred to it. It was established in the year 1983 by the International Olympic Committee. It was originally formed to deal with disputes arising in Olympics. Further, the Court of Arbitration of Sports was placed under the authority of the International Council of Arbitration for Sport for administrative and financial overlook. Therefore, when arbitration can resolve matters at an international level then it can definitely help and decide sports related matters at the local and National level. It will also ease the burden on courts and will result in a quick disposal of matters. Judiciary’s Approach The Judiciary has overtime given out some great judgements which has changed the perspective of how this law is viewed and can be seen through the following: The Supreme Court in the case of Zee Telefilms Ltd. & Anr v. Union of India & Ors, discussed whether BCCI comes under the ambit of State within Article 12 or not because a writ petition was filed under article 32 against the BCCI. The court also discussed about the importance of sports in detail. The court held that the BCCI has a monopoly over cricket in India and no part of it is held by the government, there is no state control over it or financial control over it. However, it has been approved by the government. It is like a private club. But, while performing its duties it has responsibilities towards the public as well as towards the private. Therefore when a public duty or function is involved, the body becomes subject to judicial scrutiny under the writ jurisdiction. Further, in the case, it was observed that the BCCI is the sole body had deals with cricket and chooses the team for India as well. So, when a body does all these functions it can be said that the public function is involved as far as the selection of the team is concerned as the team represents the country at an International level. BCCI is therefore amenable to writ jurisdiction. However, not every action of BCCI is subject to judicial scrutiny. Only the functions that falls under the ambit of public law would be subject to judicial review under article 32 or 226. Actions which are in the sphere of pure private law which have no traces of public law would not be the subject matter of writs. The Court further discussed about the Importance of Sports in India in the case of K. Murugan v. Fencing Association of India. According to the court, with modernisation sports has been considered as an integral part of the society. International sports has gained a lot of importance and has been in the focus for the past decades. The Court showed its concern by stating that the performance of small countries in Olympics have been better than countries like India which has the second largest population and is also equipped with all the resources available to mankind. The Court in the case of Indian Olympic Association v. Veeresh Malik & Ors., held that the Indian Olympic association comes under the ambit of public authority within section 2(h) of The Right to Information Act, 2005. Conclusion With the increasing interest in sports, there is a need for a proper and comprehensive legislation. There is a need to protect and promote Sportsmanship. The rights of athletes and sportsmen should be protected and they must also be liable to certain restrictions. Our failure in International Sports, acts as an indication for a wake-up call for us. Corruption and poor infrastructure within the industry must be stopped. A uniform code for sports need to be promoted which is appropriate to the changing dimensions of the world. Inefficient deployment of funds and Prejudice in selection procedures are some of the key issues faced by the sportsmen. Sports law should be promoted and should also form a part of the course curriculum for law graduates. Absence of law leads to vulnerability and exploitation which can be seen by the increase in the number of cases of corruption and exploitation. Even the United Nations has recognized sport as a means to promote education, health, development and peace. The same should be considered by our country as well and instead of considering Sports as a means of recreation only it should be considered as a matter of national pride and a great way to generate revenue within the country. For the very same reason the intervention of a well drafted legislation is a must.