COMPREHENSIVE SPORTS LEGISLATION IN INDIA: NEED OF THE HOUR?


Introduction
Sports have always played a vital role in the physical development, fitness, and mental well-being of a person. It also helps in inculcating the true spirit of fair play, teamwork, and perseverance. Indian history in sports can be traced as an origin of sports like Kabaddi, Polo, Hockey, and Wrestling. Despite, sports being part of Entry 33 of the State list, 7th schedule of the Constitution of India, [1] Sports in India are governed by the National Sports Development Code, 2011. The validity of such a code was upheld in the case of the Indian Olympic Association v. Union of India. [2] However, its administration falls within the realm and remit of various autonomous bodies like Board of Control for Cricket in India, Indian Olympic Association and Hockey India.
Currently, sports are not an instrument for advancing health, education, and development [3] but it is also intertwined with laws like contracts, intellectual property rights, competition law. This leads to the emergence of a new branch of law. Sports law safeguards the interests of all its stakeholders like sportspersons, sponsors, sports supporters, etc. It ensures fair play and equal opportunities are given to every sportsperson regardless of their race, gender, or religion. Furthermore, it also helps in imposing sanctions for committing sports crimes like discrimination and violating the legal framework. In India where sports like cricket are treated as a religion, it becomes more important to enact sports law in order to regulate the malpractices of athletes like doping, match-fixing, and gambling. Therefore, the involvement of intricate legal issues in sports makes it vital to have a stringent enactment. 
There has been debate revolving around the enactment of sports legislation in India to cover all the aspects and areas of law for protecting the interest of all the sportspersons. So it’s imperative to analyze the present challenges in regard to its laws to understand whether the current laws are sufficient to deal with such situations or not. 

Challenges in Sports
India has been seeing litigations on issues of broadcasting rights [4], taxation, gambling, etc. In this part of the blog, certain problems arising in sports will be examined with respect to their existing laws:

(i) Sexual Harassment
In the Second World Conference on Women and Sports in 1998, it was said that “it is the responsibility of all parties to ensure a safe and supportive environment for girls and women at participating in sports at all levels”. [5] However, on the contrary around 2-8% of minor-age athletes are victims of sexual abuse within the context of sport. [6] The National Development Code of India, 2011 provides certain guidelines and provisions to prevent sexual harassment of women. The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition, and Redressal) Act, 2013 was also introduced for the purpose of preventing sexual harassment of any women at the workplace. Section 2(o)(i) of the act ‘workplace’ is defined as any sports institute, stadium, sports complex, or competition or games venue, whether residential or not used for training, sports, or other activities relating. [7] It also includes any department or organization that is owned, controlled, established, or wholly or substantially funded whether directly or indirectly by the government. [8] In this context, National Sports Federations are financed by the government. Thus, impliedly Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace Act, 2013 will also be applied in the sports arena. 

(ii) Gender Discrimination
The founder of the Modern Olympics, Baron Pierre de Coubertin in 1896 said “No matter how toughened a sportswoman may be, her organism is not cut out to sustain certain shocks”. [9] Hitherto the position of women in sports has been a peculiar niche. According to the research from women in sports it has been found that 40% of the female athletes face discrimination due to their sex. [10] Currently in the world, only 4 % of sports media content is dedicated to women’s sport. [11] Furthermore, there is a disparity in the salaries paid to the female and male athletes. For instance Captain of Indian cricket team (female) earns 7% of the Indian Cricket Team (male) annual income. [12]
The Indian Constitution provides fundamental rights under Article15(1) that prohibits discrimination on the grounds of religion, race, caste, sex and place of birth [13] and Article 14 that mandates equality before law.14 Thus, it is a duty of the state to refrain from doing any of the acts that are discriminatory in nature. However, if the state infringes the fundamental rights individuals shall file the writ petitions under article 32 and 226 of the Indian Constitution. It is also to be noted that under article 226 of the Indian constitution, fundamental rights may be enforced against “any person or authority” performing public duty. [15] Therefore, female athletes facing discrimination in sports may seek justice by filing the writs petitions.

(iii) Doping
Doping refers to an athlete's use of prohibited drugs or methods to improve training and sporting results. [16] The intake of these steroids helps sportspersons to enhance their performance by boosting their stamina, muscle growth, and reducing their fatigue. India adopted the World Anti-Doping (WADA) Code which was framed to control the doping practices across all platforms of sports. In accordance with this code, the National Anti-Doping Agency (NADA) was established in India to follow its guidelines and framework. Subsequently, NADA implemented the Anti-doping Rules in compliance with the WADA code with the aim to eradicate doping. NADA constitutes Anti Doping Disciplinary Panel (ADDP) and Anti Doping Appeal Panel (ADPA) to adjudicate the doping matters. ADDP initiates the doping practices against the sportsperson found doping positive and if not satisfied its decision may be appealed in the ADAP. Nevertheless, the decision given by the ADDP and ADPA is not conclusive; a sportsperson may also appeal in the Court of Arbitration for sport for seeking justice. Thus, it can be concluded that NADA has suitable regulations and adjudication mechanisms to curb doping practices in India.

(iv) Betting & Match-fixing
There have been many instances of Match-fixing in India where players have been involved in such illegal activities like Mohammad Azharuddin, S Sreesanth, and Ajay Sharma, etc.  Further, in the Indian Premier League owners of two franchises, Rajasthan Royals and Chennai Super Kings were also in headlines for having their contracts with the match-fixing bookies. In match-fixing, a person predetermines the results of a match by defrauding the various stakeholders of sports to make wrongful profits. Hence, the people found match-fixing is prosecuted under section 420 of the Indian Penal Code for cheating. [17]
On the other hand, betting and gambling are mentioned in the List-II of the seventh schedule, the Constitution of India. This empowers the State Governments to make laws pertaining to betting and gambling for their respective states. Most of the states have enacted laws for regulating betting and gambling for example West Bengal Gambling and Prize Competition Act, 1957, Bombay Prevention of Gambling Act, 1887, Punjab Public Gambling Act, 1961 Kerala Gambling Act, 1960. However, states which do not have any specific legislation for administering such practices are governed by The Public Gambling Act, 1867. Therefore, in the presence of adequate laws, there is no need for enacting new legislation on betting and match-fixing. 

(v) Intellectual Property Rights
Commercialization of sports has led to many of the intellectual property rights (IPR) issues like trademarks, copyrights and franchising and licensing. In the present scenario, many teams get their logos, tagline, etc. registered to captivate their brand image and value football teams like Liverpool, Real Madrid, and Manchester United are perfect examples of this. There are also instances when companies get patent rights on the shoes worn by sportspersons. Further, a lot of times the official jerseys that are worn by players are also registered under the Trademark Act, 1999. At present, the whole arena of IPR in India is governed by The Trade Marks Act 1999, The Patents Act 1970, and The Copyright Act 1957 and The Geographical Indications of Goods Act 1999. These laws are adequate to deal with any of the instances of infringement in IPR as they are complete laws including the punishment for infringement, the jurisdiction of courts, adjudication procedure, etc. Therefore, in the presence of a sufficient law, there is no need for any other legislation.

Conclusion
It is clear that the existing laws are sufficient to deal with the present plaguing challenges in sports. Therefore, currently, there is no need for implementing comprehensive sports legislation in India However, there is a need to promote arbitration in the sports arena to resolve the disputes between the sportspersons and sports federations because it is a more effective method than traumatizing litigations. It ensures speedy disposal of cases as the arbitrators possess substantial knowledge about the intricacies of sports legislation. The India Court of Arbitration for Sports (ICAS) was also established in 2011 in the line to elevate ADR as a medium for resolving disputes. Furthermore, the National Sports Authority of India should also take some measures to encourage transparency and pellucidity in the working of the autonomous bodies responsible for governing sports in India.

References
[1] 7th Schedule of the Constitution of India, 1950.
[2] 2014 (212) DLT 389 (India).
[3] Sports Law in India (Jan 9th, 2019), Available here
[4] Secretary, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting v Cricket Association of Bengal, AIR 1995 SC 1236.
[5] Sexual Harassment in Sports (Oct 19, 2019) Available here
[6] Sandra L Kirby et al., The Dome of Silence (Fernwood, edn.1, 2000).
[7] Section 2(o)(i) The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013.
[8] Ibid.
[9] Deshpandey and Vishwas Manohar, "Gender Discrimination in Sports." 545-47 (International Journal of Physical Education, Sports.
[10] Women Face discrimination in Sports Jobs (Jun 20, 2018) Available here
[11] Women have gotten lesser advantage compared to men in sports (Feb 20,2020) Available here
[12] All the Arguments You Need: to Advocate for Equal Pay in Sport (Jul 5, 2019) Available here
[13] Article 15(1) of the Constitution of India, 1950.
[14] Article 14 of the Constitution of India, 1950.
[15] Ajay Jadeja v. Union of India; DLT 14, 2002 (61) DRJ 639.
[16] Definition of doping by United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization Available here
[17] Section 420 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860.

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