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Athletes won't be affected due to non-release of funds to non-compliant NSFs during Commonwealth Games: Delhi HC

The Indian players participating in the upcoming Commonwealth Games and the country are not likely to suffer on account of the non-release of funds to the NSFs which are non-compliant with the National Sports Code.

Delhi High Court

 Delhi High Court 



Updated: 22 July 2022 3:40 PM GMT

The Indian players participating in the upcoming Commonwealth Games and the country are not likely to suffer on account of the non-release of funds to the National Sports Federations (NSF) which are non-compliant with the National Sports Code, the Delhi High Court has said while dealing with a matter relating to non-compliance of law by several NSFs.

The court was informed by the Centre's counsel that the travel expenses and accommodation of the Indian teams participating in CWG, which is going to start in Birmingham on July 28, will be funded by the government under its supervision and management.

The court was hearing a petition by senior advocate Rahul Mehra seeking to ensure compliance with the Sports Code by the NSFs.

The court, which had earlier directed that no money or assistance shall be provided to NSFs which were not complying with the Sports Code, said the interim orders passed in June shall continue till further orders.

"The Indian team for the Commonwealth Games has been selected. On a query put to the counsel for the government as to whether the Indian teams of various sports disciplines will be able to participate under the Indian National Flag in the upcoming Commonwealth Games, which is to start in about a week, the answer is in the affirmative, " a bench of Justices Najmi Waziri and Vikas Mahajan said.

"...In effect neither the Indian players nor the country is likely to suffer on account of the non-release of funds to the non-compliant NSFs. Public monies can be released only to entities which qualify for such funding. This is under examination. Relevant data is yet to be furnished, " the bench said.

Additional Solicitor General Aishwarya Bhati, representing the Centre, contended that 24 NSFs are fully compliant with the Sports Code.

However, the court said this statement by itself would not be sufficient and added "What were the elements of compliance examined by the UOI is not specified in the affidavit. Let details of the same be filed before the next date, along with records as may be available, including the constitution of each of the said 'compliant NSFs'. "

The court said each mandatory aspect of the Sports Code has to be complied with, which can neither be diluted nor whittled down, and gave an example that the minimum 25 per cent representation of eminent sportspersons in the Executive Committee has to be ensured.

"After all the NSFs are for the benefit of promotion of the sports and the welfare of sportspersons. It is in this context that the Sports Code stipulates that there should be a minimum representation of 25 per cent of eminent sportspersons in the decision-making process."

"If the NSFs have so ensured and complied with the Sports Code, then such compliance should be placed on record. For continued recognition annual monitoring of compliance is contemplated under the Sports Code. At least one NSF should be shown to be compliant on all parameters for it to continue to receive government patronage, largesse, and funds," the bench said.

Mehra handed over a summarised checklist of compliances envisaged under the Sports Code for grant of annual recognition to NSFs and the court asked Central government standing counsel Anil Soni to file a response to it.

The court has been monitoring and examining due compliance of the Sports Code in terms of a previous order. The court listed the matter for further hearing on July 26.

The High Court on June 3, directed the Centre to ensure that no money and patronage is given to those NSFs which were not functioning in compliance with the law concerning the administration of sports in the country. It had said that the NSFs which were not compliant shall be put on notice of suspension.

The court was earlier informed by the Joint Secretary of Sports Ministry that concerted efforts were underway to ensure that compliances were made by the end of June and that while 15 NSFs were adhering with the Sports code, six were granted the exemption.

Five NSFs needed to amend their constitutions and 17 required major changes, it was further said.

The petitioner disputed the Centre's version and emphasised that at least 24 NSFs have "super luminary persons" in the management which was not envisaged by the code and that the mandate of 25 per cent of the management of NSFs being prominent sportspersons of outstanding merit was not being followed.

In its earlier order, the court had noted that in November 2021, the Centre had claimed to have recognised 59 NSFs and there can be "no latitude apropos expending monies on entities who do not qualify for it in law".

In view of the non-compliance with its previous orders, the court had sought the presence of an Officer of the rank of Joint Secretary before it.
On May 26, the court had asked the Centre to suspend NSFs that are not complying with the Sports Code, saying that it was prudent that no further exemptions be granted to or lenience be shown to such non-compliant entities.

It had stated that compliance with the Sports Code was a must for the grant of recognition as an NSF and unless the entity strictly adheres to the code, it would disentitle itself from any consequential benefits flowing from the public fund, such as the use of government-owned stadia and sports facilities etc.

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