By Navneet Singh
New Delhi, Feb 2 (IANS) The latest sports ministry circular that seeks to “dilute” the National Sports Development Code of India 2011 is “purely illegal”, lawyer-turned-sports activist Rahul Mehra, who is pushing for reforms in Indian sports, has charged.
The ministry in its circular of February 1, sent to all the National Sports Federations (NSFs) and the Indian Olympic Association (IOA), is about renewal of recognition of the NSFs under the Sports Code 2011, which has still not been fully implemented.
Mehra is trying to enforce the Code through Delhi High Court, which has, for the time being, stayed the renewal of recognition of the NSFs, while giving the federations time to comply with the Code and make necessary amendments to their constitution.
“The circular is purely illegal. The ministry in its own submission advocated for the NSFs to follow the Code for clean sports. Now it’s taking a different course to support the NSFs as many of them don’t follow the government guidelines meant for good governance,” Mehra told IANS.
“The government shall have the power to relax any of the provisions of the National Sports Development Code of India 2011 and other instructions issued with regard to recognition of NSFs, renewal of recognition NSFs, on annual basis and governance and management of the IOA and the NSFs as a special exemption where considered necessary and expedient for the promotion of sports, sportspersons, or to remove difficulties in giving true effect to that particular provision of the Sports Code, always being guided by and not inconsistent with the overarching spirit of good governance and ethical conduct enshrined in the Sports Code 2011,” said the ministry circular, signed and issued by joint secretary L. Siddharth Singh, with the approval of the sports minister Kiren Rijiju.
“The reasons for such relaxation shall be recorded in writing. Power to relax the provision will rest with Minister In-Charge of the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports,” in further stated.
On Monday, soon after the ministry issued the circular, Mehra took to social media and tweeted a series of tweets, disagreeing with sports ministry circular that “diluted” the Code while granting annual recognition to the NSFs. He sought an audience with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and tagged him in a series of tweets, claiming that the sports ministry was “bending” rules to bail out sports administrators violating the Sports Code.
Text messages and calls to secretary (sports) Ravi Mittal went unanswered.
In November and December, the sports ministry had granted provisional recognition to 54 NSFs and asked them to amend their constitutions as per the Sports Code.
Mehra had filed a PIL (Public Interest Litigation) in 2010, saying that the NSFs were violating sports code. Recently, the Delhi High Court had observed that the NSFs that don’t fall in line and comply with the Sports Code would not be entitled to receive grants from the government.