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Shortcoming of Sports Law in India

Sports help in advancement of peace, development of children and youth, functional lifestyle and active social participation. It primarily brings a sense of belongingness and national pride. Sports create loyalty in people which is such a pure emotion that people have extreme reactions towards it. Everyone loves to play and watch sports because it is honest, if you produce results you get to play. Sports teaches us the importance of teamwork, community, fidelity and most importantly to look out and care for each other.

Law is a root to justice and peace and if we don't have law, everything will eventually fall apart. Rules and Regulations are made in order to protect people from injustice and inequality. It is crucial to have an established legal framework to regulate sports so that encumbrances like racism, doping, age fraud etc can be prevented and monitored. Sports law helps to protect gender equality, prevent betting and gambling, promote professional management in sports, address antitrust and competition policy issues related to sports and regulate sports broadcasting rights.

Sports law is the consolidation of different laws which helps to govern sports all over the world. Different associations have been established to oversee the global governance of sports i.e
  • Cricket - International Cricket Council
  • Football - Federation International Football Association
  • Athletics - International Association of International Federations

Sports Law in India

The Government of India constituted the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports to monitor and regulate sports in India. The Ministry was tasked to develop the sports infrastructure and promote extensive advancement of sports along with attaining supremacy in competitive events at national and international levels. India is a home to many sports which makes it more important to have an established legal structure to monitor, regulate and govern sports in India.

In the Seventh schedule of the Indian Constitution, Article 246 categorizes three classes of list; Union list, State list and the Concurrent list. The items in the Union list can only be governed by the Union government, the items in the state list can only be governed by the State government and the items in the concurrent list can be governed by both the Union government and the State government.

Entry 33 under the State list proclaims that the State has the jurisdiction to make laws on any matter pertaining to sports. While as the state subject, sports development comes under the ambit of State jurisdiction only at the state level but at the national and international level, it falls in the purview of the Union Government because of its residuary powers and matters involving foreign affairs and implementation of international treaty obligations, stated in Entries 10 and 13 of the Union List.

This is the reason that even though national sports bodies like Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) and Athletic Federation of India (AFI) are self- governing in nature, the Supreme Court of India and various High Courts have in their judgments proclaimed that regardless the national sports bodies in India are not included within the definition of State in Article 12 of the Indian Constitution but they come within the writ jurisdiction of High Courts under Article 226 of the Constitution of India as they perform state-like functions like, selection of national teams and representing the country in international sports events and forums.

National Sports Policy, 2001

The National Sports Policy, 2001 laid down the measures that need to be taken in order for growth and development of sports across the country. The importance of working together is considered an ideal solution to achieve the dual purposes of Broad-basing of sports and Achieving Excellence in sports at the National and International levels.

The Union government is to work in synchronisation with the State government, National Sports Federation and The Olympic Association (IOA) to achieve the objectives of the Policy. The sports activities in which the country has possible growth and competitive edge, need to be aggressively encouraged. The policy aimed at inserting sports and Physical Education in the Education curriculum.

The government implemented the National Sports Policy, 2001 for development of sports in the rustic areas to recognize and utilize the accessible talent and potential. In this context, the rural Youth and Sports clubs as well as the Village Panchayats are to be prepared to facilitate the development of the needful infrastructure and for the recognition of talent through an appropriate competition structure in the deprived and remote parts of the country.

National Sports Federations (NSFs)

The National Sports Federations are autonomous bodies affiliated with State and District level Associations for the management, development of sports and to bring together sports groups and licensed players with the intention to organise sports through various competitions. NSF helps in discovering potential athletes and helps in training of such athletes for national and international competitions. The federations are established in order to achieve the goals highlighted by National Sports policy made from time to time by the Government of India.

National Sports Development Code of India, 2011

The Government of India has now and again formulated policies and strategies to promote good governance practices in the organisation and management of sports at the national level. These policies are rooted from the Basic Universal Principles of Good Governance of Olympic and Sports movement and therefore do not, contradict or interfere with the individualism of the national sports federations in discharging their functions and duties in accordance with the Olympic Charter. Recent judgements conferred by the Hon”ble Supreme Court of India and various high courts are incorporated under the National Sports Development Code of India, 2011.

The Hon'ble Delhi High court in the matter of Indian Hockey Federation stated that International sporting events are an important part of diplomatic relations, political and diplomatic clearances are obligatory for Indian teams before participating in the international competitions and tournaments, the court called attention to the fact that the State Government has no jurisdiction to undertake such exercise, making it the exclusive right of the Union Government.

Match fixing and Criminal law in India

Match fixing is an act of setting up a game to be played for a predetermined result, in violation of the rules of the game as well as the law. There are instances of teams intentionally performing poorly just in order to gain a future advantage or for a better draft pick or losing for future advantage are some practises which are included in the bounds of match fixing. Games that are deliberately lost are called thrown games.

Fixing a match to achieve prearranged results requires contacts, players, team officials and referees. Match fixing is called by many other names such as game fixing, sports fixing, or hippodroming. The criminal act of match fixing has not been defined or mentioned under any Indian criminal law and thus the act of match fixing is vaguely included in criminal conspiracy defined in th Indian Penal Code, 1860. Section 120 (A) of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 defines the act of criminal conspiracy where if any 2 or more persons agree to do or cause to do an illegal act or a legal act by illegal means then such agreement is constituted as a criminal conspiracy.

Prosecution under criminal conspiracy requires prosecution under criminal breach of trust, cheating and dishonestly inducing delivery of property. The prosecution has to prove what property was transferred and how exactly it was misappropriated, It makes it instrumentally difficult to prove that any player was involved in a criminal act of match fixing.

Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act, 1999

In the wake of many cases of organised crime in sports, Maharashtra came up with an act to specifically target organised crime and enacted a special law with strict and deterrent accoutrements to control the plague of organised crime. The Act quashed any other laws which are prevailing or made in contravention with the provisions of the act.

The Act was enacted to become the most promising statute to control and finish the syndicate of organised crime in the state but it had some major loopholes as the Act did not explicitly criminalise match fixing and in order to prove a person for match fixing, continued unlawful act or membership in an organised crime syndicate was required which made it imminently difficult to prove the criminal act in a court of law.

Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988

The act was enacted to prevent corruption in government organisations and public sectors by the public servants. In order to prove a player is guilty of corruption, the prosecution has to prove a bribe has been offered to a public servant/ athlete. In Zee Telefilms case, The Supreme Court of India decided that Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has state like features and thus any athlete employed by BCCI is a public servant.

Thus any national sports body having state like characteristics employs an athlete, the athlete is said to be a public servant. In India the acts that normally constitute match fixing are not specifically criminalised under any Indian law and consequently if any acts in question happened between 2 clubs, none of the players can be considered public servants as required for prosecution under the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988.

In 2000, CBI surveyed Indian laws and found that only Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 is one law that could be convincingly useful for criminalising the acts of Match fixing by cricketers in the Indian Cricket team. In a PIL filed in the Delhi High Court, the Hon'ble Court took a serious outlook on the mismanagement of the sports sector in the country and expressed deep concern at the inability on the part of the government in implementing and enforcing its own guidelines. The government needs to take cognizance and form a proper legal work to regulate sports in India.

It is a strenuous process to prove match fixing using Indian criminal law and the criminal law punishment is inadequate for crimes committed in the sports sector. With a national legislation, the government and the governing body of sport can punish crimes with greater detriment.

India is in dire need of a national legislation for development and uniform management of sports. Sports need to be included in the Concurrent list over which both Union and the State government are competent to form laws. The government should take bona fide actions for implementation of the National Sports Policy of India.

Further the Indian government should establish a Sports Commission for regulation of sports in the country. The sports commission will help in surveying the implementation of sports policies in India and in advising the government for formulation of such policies.

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