How Sports Act & IPL came into being: A breakdown of events

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Being a sports law enthusiast interested in becoming a sports lawyer in your law career, you might find yourself wondering how the Sports Act specific to various states in India was enacted in the first place, or what were the incidents that pushed the lawmakers into even considering having the said act.

When you have a knack for a particular field, you feel like exploring all the ends of it just like your favorite TV show which after binge-watching, you find yourself googling everything about, be it the characters, or the idea that prompted the show-makers towards directing that particular show. 

Making a law from the ground level is never an easy task and requires a lot of perseverance and effort to finally see the results. Let's find out how your favourite cricket league i.e. IPL and the Sports Act in India came into being.

in conversation with:

Senior Advocate, Supreme Court, and previous Advocate on Record and Addl. Advocate General for the State of Rajasthan

He was the Chief Architect of Sports Act enacted by the State of Rajasthan amongst other great accomplishments

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I. 

Changing the sports scenario in India: The thought behind it

My passion for Sports Act comes from my deep craving and urge for national pride and national glorification.

 

In the year 2000 Mr. V.R. Reddy, former Additional Solicitor General of India and me joined to form ‘PIPS India’ – ‘Peoples’ Initiative for Promotion of Sports’ and came out with a quarter-page advertisement ‘Bronze for a Billion’. India had got one bronze medal in the 2000 Olympics and to me, it was deeply painful and hurting. Similarly, in 2003 National Games State of Rajasthan got one Bronze medal and it was shocking. Rajasthan was a leader in Basketball, Volleyball, athletics, etc. Something must be certainly wrong with the structure of the Sports Industry. It was not possible that we did not have talent, but certainly, the talent was being thwarted.

Soon after I became AAG, in April 2004 I mooted the idea of enacting the Rajasthan Sports Act to the Chief Minister of Rajasthan and told her that the same would certainly provide a meaningful outlet to the energy of the youth in the State. I also told her that the task would not be easy as deep and pervasive vested interest would be existing and would make all-out efforts to stall the process. Any change in the status quo, even if it was for progress, would find great resistance. Anti-thesis always existed before the thesis. She wholly supported the idea and stood by it. Neither cricket nor IPL was anywhere in mind when I started the drafting of the Sports Act.

 

The idea was to merely regulate Sports Associations, which were using the name of the State and Country but were operating as monopolies and personal properties for decades, by a handful of people.

 

I studied the global sports structure in the USA, UK, Germany, Australia, African countries, other European countries, Russia and China, etc. After the basic draft was completed, on a personal level I took the help of Mr. K.K. Venugopal, present Attorney General and Mr. Altaf Ahmed, former Additional Solicitor General. I ran through 52 drafts, there was resistance from all quarters as expected. Every sports association was suddenly awake and joined together to kill the sports legislation. Except for one bureaucrat, the entire bureaucracy was against it, nobody had even applied or was willing to apply his mind to the problem or the solution.

 

However, Rajasthan Sports Bill (Recognition, Registration, and Regulation) Ordinance 2004 was promulgated on 17.08.2004, incidentally, it was the same day when Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore got a Silver medal in 2004 Athens Olympics. Rajasthan Sports Ordinance was effectively applied to cricket and that brought in Mr. Lalit Modi to cricket in February 2005, who had his vision of IPL. But that was only possible by breaking the domination of the few in BCCI.

II.

Enactment of Rajasthan Sports Act: The Struggle

III.

Launch of IPL

On the Lines on Rajasthan Sports Act, Sports Act for H.P. and U.P. were enacted. I had occasions to meet some of the top sportsperson, who not only appreciated the effort but were overwhelmed with the possibilities of its potentiality. Immediately Writ Petitions were filed in Rajasthan, Shimla, and Allahabad High Court, which I successfully defended. From April 2004 till November 2005 I continued to think, create, lead, form, and execute the strategy for regulating the sports industry. I created a team of advocates to work together. And we successfully worked together. On the ground level, it all resulted in breaking down the control and stronghold of Mr. J. Dalmiya in BCCI in November 2005. I still remember Mr. Sharad Panwar, Mr. Farooq Abdullah, Mr. Praful Patel, Mr. I.S.Bindra, and Mr. Lalit Modi with folded hands, thanking me for helping them to achieve their objective, for which they were struggling for almost a decade.

 

In 2007 IPL was launched and the first season started in April 2008. In the last, over a decade the revenues of BCCI have moved from about Rs. 100 Crores in 2007-08 to 13,000 Crores in 2019-20 (about US$ 2 billion).

We have seen some flashes of glory, but they are all individual efforts of players and their family, for which the Association, State, and Nation seeks to take the glory, without contributing anything meaningful. There has been further deterioration and decay in the Sports Industry when we compare to international scenario. 

 

I am looking forward to and waiting for the enactment of the National Sports Act, which will cover several aspects that have evolved over the years. A National Sports Act will certainly bring structural changes to boost the sports industry meaningfully and that when implemented at ground level will meet my vision of the Sports Industry in India.

IV.

National Sports Act: Still a long way to go

As a sports enthusiast, what are your views about the situation of the National Sports Act? In your opinion how far-fetched is the enactment from reality? 

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