Sports Law in India


Sports and games form an essential part of human resource development. Sports is very important for the development and excellence in the international events. Over the years a number of Nationals Sports Federations (NSFs) have come up for development of specific games/ sports disciplines.

One must actively support the sportsperson so that they can achieve their objectives and reach greater heights and also break records at the International Level tournaments like the Olympics. It has been the endeavor of the Government of India to lay down procedures for effective coordination among various agencies involved in the promotion of sports and extend required infrastructure, training and other facilities to the sportsperson for achieving excellence in the international events.

Over the years a number of Nationals Sports Federations (NSFs) have come up for development of specific games/ sports disciplines. The Government of India has been actively supporting these Federations in achieving their objectives.

Guidelines of 2001 laid down the following principles, which now stand subsumed in the National Sports Development Code of India(NSCI) 2011:

i. A clear role of dileanation between NSFs, SAI and the Government.

ii. Grouping of sport disciplines into priority, general and others for the purposes of determining the entitlement for
government assistance.

iii. Detailed guidelines for preparation of Long Term Development Plans (4-year cycle). Provision made for annual
sanction budgets of development plans.

iv. Binding tripartite agreements between NSFs, the Department and the SAI to be drawn up.

v. An emphasis on professionalizing and upgrading the administrative and financial management of Federations.

vi. An emphasis on systems to handle players‘ grievance.

vii. The appointment of registered chartered accountants to ensure maintenance of proper and transparent accounts.

viii. Recognition of the role of sports promoters, particularly in event management.

Recent Developments

Hon‘ble High Court of Delhi, in Civil Writ Petition No.7868 of 2005, in the matter of Indian Hockey Federation, while disposing off the matter vide Order dated 02.03.2010, categorically observed that the Government guidelines governing the NSFs are valid, binding and enforceable; and the tenure clause is not in violation of the International
Olympic Charter. The Hon‘ble Court also observed that the Government of India is fully competent to make regulations on NSFs and IOA. The Hon‘ble Delhi High Court further cited entry 10 and 13 of List I (Union List) which read as under:-

Entry 10: Foreign affairs, all matters which bring the Union into relation with any foreign country.
Entry 13: Participation in international conferences, associations
and other bodies and implementing of decisions made thereat.

Based on the above, the Hon‘ble Court observed that while an NSF has autonomy in the actual conduct of sports, Government recognition is necessary to represent the country. It further observed that international sporting events are an essential part of diplomatic relations of the nations, and several considerations like security concerns of players,apartheid, and perceived human rights violations have guided nations in decisions to participate or not to participate in sporting events in different countries.

Political and diplomatic clearances are, therefore, required by the Indian teams before participation in the international tournaments and forums. The Court pointed out that no State Government has the competence or the jurisdiction to undertake such exercise, which is the sole prerogative of the Union Government.

In another Public Interest Litigation No.195/2010 in the matter of Rahul Mehra Vs. Union of India and Others, the Hon‘ble Delhi High Court took a serious view on the mismanagement of the Sports Sector in the country and expressed deep concern at the inaction on the part of the Government in implementing and enforcing its own guidelines,particularly those relating to age and tenure.

The gist of important new initiatives taken by the Government is indicated hereunder. These have been suitably incorporated in the subsequent paragraphs of Guidelines by replacing the existing provisions and/or adding the new provisions. The new provisions supersede the earlier provisions in the 2001 Guidelines:

Gist of new initiatives taken by Government in the recent past:

1. Restoring the limits on duration of tenure of office bearers of Indian Olympic Association and all recognized National Sports Federations. (Annexure-XIII)

2. Guidelines for Good governance in the context of Basic Universal Principle of Good Governance of Olympic and
Sports Movement‖. (Annexure-XIV)

3. Annual recognition of National Sports Federations.(Annexure-XV)

4. Measures to combat fraud in age of players. (AnnexureXVI)

5. Prevention of sexual harassment of women in sports, etc.(Annexure-XVII)

6. Notifying IOA and NSFs as Public Authority under Right to Information Act. (Annexure –XVIII)

7. Drawal of advance calendar of sporting events both national and international. (Annexure-XIX)

8. National Anti-Doping Rules notified vide gazette notification no 21-4/2008-ID dated 5th February, 2010

9. Guidelines for efficient management of Coaching Camps, Selection of Coaches, Selection of Athletes, etc.

10. Representation of Indian Nationals only, in National Teams (Annexure-XXII)

Objectives of Guidelines

The objective of these Guidelines are three fold:

1. Firstly to define the areas of responsibility of the various agencies involved in the promotion and development of sports.

2. Secondly, to identify NSFs eligible for coverage under these guidelines, to set priorities, and to detail the procedures to be followed by the Federations, to avail of Government sponsorship and assistance.

3. And Lastly, To state the conditions for eligibility to receive government recognition and grant.