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Law in Sports

Parliamentary panel meet to review proper use of laws by sports federations: TMC's Sushmita Dev

Trinamool Congress MP Sushmita Dev has asked for a parliamentary panel meeting to review the implementation of laws by sports federations.

Delhi High Court

 Delhi High Court 



Updated: 9 May 2023 4:11 PM GMT

Citing the protest by women wrestlers here, Trinamool Congress MP Sushmita Dev has urged a parliamentary standing committee to review the implementation of all statutory laws that apply to sports federations and other bodies and the role of the Sports Ministry.

In a letter to Vivek Thakur, chairman of the parliamentary standing committee on education, women, children, youth, and sports, Dev referred to the allegations of sexual harassment leveled by seven women wrestlers against the chairman of the Wrestling Federation of India Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh.

The prevailing controversy must be extremely discouraging for women sportspersons and the Committee "must not sit back as mute spectators", she said. "This issue raises some serious questions for the society at large but more so for the world of sports. Women have shown exemplary performance over the years and their achievements are a matter of pride for the nation," the TMC MP, who is a member of the Committee, noted.

Dev said the Committee should "take a review of the implementation of all statutory laws that apply to the sports federations and other bodies and the role of the Sports Ministry in this regard".

She requested Thakur "to hold a meeting with a specific agenda that ensures a thorough review of this issue". "For women to compete and win their space of training and work must make them feel safe. There is a statutory duty to ensure that proper systems are in place not only for redressal but for prevention of sexual harassment at workplace or outside their workplace," she said.

She pointed out that it is not the first time that sportswomen are raising their concerns about becoming victims of sexual harassment.

She said that in this context the various Sports Federations and their compliance with the statutory duties under the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal Act 2013) is extremely critical. She said that the term "workplace" in the Act has been given a very wide interpretation and as per Section 2 (0) (iv) of the Act includes "any sports institute, stadium, sports complex or competitions or games venue whether residential or not used for training, sports or other activities relating thereto".

As per Section 2 (g) and (f) the definition of 'employer' also clearly includes any person "in charge of management, supervision and control" of the workplace would mean that sports federations will fall within the ambit of the same.

Therefore it is their statutory duty to form an Internal Complaints Committee duly constituted as per the Act of 2013, she said in the letter to Thakur, the committee chairman Rajya Sabha member.

Dev also referred to the 'Me Too' movement and how it called into question the culpability of a Union minister as also many persons positioned in the top levels of corporate and other organizations. She said that the government set up a Committee of a group of ministers with a three months deadline to examine the various provisions for the safety of women.

"I cannot say what were the findings of the said committee or the fate of it. Be that as it may, it is my view that our Standing committee should take a review of the implementation of all statutory laws that apply to the sports federations and other bodies and the role of the Sports Ministry in this regard," she said.

She also said that she would like to believe that the standing committee is not just an "ornamental mechanism" but very much abreast of the need of the hour "to act and stand up for the women who are facing sexual harassment and give them a message that as watchdogs of the government policy, we are doing everything in our power".

The wrestlers are on a sit-in at Jantar Mantar in the national capital since April 23 demanding action against the WFI chief over allegations of sexual harassment against him. In the last week of April, Delhi Police registered two FIRs in connection with the sexual harassment allegations leveled by women wrestlers against Singh.

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