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Updated: August 31, 2011 01:27 IST

Ministers weigh in against RTI for sports bodies

Rakesh Rao
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How can the BCCI be under the RTI when it does not take any grant from the government: BCCI Vice President Rajiv Shukla. File photo
PTI How can the BCCI be under the RTI when it does not take any grant from the government: BCCI Vice President Rajiv Shukla. File photo

Cabinet asks Sports Ministry to remove "intrusive" provisions in Bill

The Union Cabinet has directed the Sports Ministry to “rework” the draft of the National Sports Bill, removing provisions some Ministers felt were “intrusive.”

The Cabinet met here on Tuesday evening to discuss the draft proposal, which stresses the need for “transparency and good governance” in the sports administration.

Indications are that the reworked Bill will be ready before the winter session of Parliament.

It is learnt that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh agreed with the observations made by Home Minister P. Chidambaram, who supported “several positives” of the proposed Bill even if it had certain provisions which might be too intrusive.

Apart from Sharad Pawar and Farooq Abdullah, who would have been directly affected by the draft provision setting an age limit on those heading sports bodies, other Ministers also joined in opposing the Bill. Sources said Praful Patel and Kamal Nath objected to the Long-Term Development Programme (LTDP), while Kapil Sibal expressed his reservations, saying it was “not the right political environment” to present the Bill.

Mr. Patel asked why the government should seek the LTDP from the National Sports Federations (NSFs). In fact, the NSFs seeking financial assistance from the Sports Ministry are required to present their LTDP every four years, reflecting their vision for the development of sports and sportspersons over a specified period of time. It mainly includes the proposed coaching programmes, the planned participation in international events — both overseas and at home.

Sports Minister Ajay Maken reportedly emphasised that since Rs. 459 crore was granted to the NSFs in the past three years, they should be treated as a Public Authority and brought within the purview of the Right to Information (RTI). In addition, even those sports bodies which gain indirectly from the government like getting land at cheaper price, tax exemptions and custom exemptions should be deemed Public Authority and hence, be under the RTI. This push for transparency was also resisted by several Ministers.

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