Ministers resist; Sports Bill denied Cabinet nod

The sports ministry will now fine-tune the bill and take into consideration the objections raised by the ministers, which means that it may not be possible in the ongoing session of Parliament

New Delhi: The controversial Sports Bill, aimed at reining in sports federations and possibly have a government grip over the Board for Control of Cricket in India (BCCI), failed to get Cabinet nod on Tuesday due to opposition by a number of ministers who felt the step was intended to control sports bodies rather then facilitate, reports PTI.

At the Cabinet meeting chaired by prime minister Manmohan Singh, the National Sports Development Bill, steered by new sports minister Ajay Maken, was discussed and a number of ministers raised objections, particularly with respect to limiting of age to 70 years of those heading these bodies and fixed tenures for them, sources said.

Subsequently, it was decided that the bill should be re-worked by the sports ministry before it could be again considered.

During the meeting, the prime minister asked all ministers to give their views on the bill after Mr Maken piloted it.

Among those who opposed were Sharad Pawar, Farooq Abdullah, Vilasrao Deshmukh, Praful Patel, Kamal Nath, CP Joshi and Kapil Sibal. Home minister P Chidambaram, however, was not in favour of throwing out "the baby along with the bath water".

Mr Pawar, the former BCCI chief and currently ICC president, led the opposition contending that age should not be any factor for deciding as to who should head sports bodies.

"What are we doing here if 70 plus rule is going to be applied. All those who are above 70 in this room should not be there" Mr Pawar is said to have told the meeting.

Mr Pawar also said that he would take up the matter with UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi if the bill is passed with the current provisions. He also said Indian cricketers would be subjected to WADA provisions if the bill is cleared.

Telecom minister Kapil Sibal contended that it was not the right time politically to introduce the bill in Parliament.

Surface transport minister CP Joshi said he favoured guidelines instead of a law as is the practice in the United Kingdom.

Farooq Abdullah raised the issue of age restriction in the bill. "I am 73 plus but I can do so many things which younger people cannot do" he is said to have remarked.

The bill had sought to bring in revolutionary changes in the functioning of sports bodies in the country, which included putting an age limit of 70 years and tenure restrictions besides bringing these bodies under RTI.

The Indian Olympic Association (IOA) and several other national sports federations had vehemently opposed the bill ever since the drafting stage, saying it was an attempt to interfere in the functioning of the bodies.

The IOA had also said that the move was against the Olympic charter and India could be banned from international sports events if the government tried to curb their autonomy.

Cricket administrators had also reacted sharply to the proposed bill which sought to put it under the purview of the RTI.

The bill, had it been cleared by the Cabinet, would have been introduced in the Parliament in the ongoing monsoon session itself and could have had a bearing on the tenures of several seasoned administrators like Suresh Kalmadi, VK Malhotra, Yashwant Sinha, Jagdish Tytler and Virendra Nanavati who have been at the helm of their respective federations for decades.

It could also have brought the cash-rich BCCI under its fold though cricket administrators maintained that it would not be binding on the board which does not take any grant from the government.

The sports ministry will now fine-tune the bill and take into consideration the objections raised by the ministers, which means that it may not be possible in the ongoing session of Parliament.

Sports minister Mr Maken had said that the bill once passed in the Parliament would bring in more accountability in the functioning of the NSFs.

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2G case: ED orders attachment of properties of 5 companies

This is the first attachment order in 2G case and the action is expected to be followed by the properties of various telecom firms involved in the case

New Delhi: The Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Tuesday ordered freezing of bank accounts and attachment of immoveable properties of five companies in connection with the alleged bribe of Rs200 crore paid to Kalaignar TV in second generation (2G) spectrum allocation scam, reports PTI.

The bank accounts and immovable property, especially land of Dynamix Realty, Conwood Constructions, Eversmile Constructions, Nihar Constructions and DB Realty have been attached, ED officials said.

When contacted, representative of the construction companies said they were awaiting the order.

The directorate had identified various properties in this regard and formal orders were issued yesterday.

The properties will be attached under the provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) and will be termed as 'proceeds of crime' under the Act, they said.

This is the first attachment order in 2G case and the action is expected to be followed by the properties of various telecom firms involved in the case.

The CBI charge-sheet has alleged bribe money of Rs200 crore had been channelised from Shahid Usman Balwa's DB Realty to DMK-run Kalaignar TV through a 'circuitous route' via Cineyug Films and Kusegaon Fruits and Vegetables Pvt Ltd for grant of licence to Mr Balwa's Swan Telecom.

CBI, in its first charge-sheet, has alleged that Mr Balwa, along with other co-accused in the case, had entered into a conspiracy for manipulating the procedure for allocation of spectrum with the aim of favouring companies like Swan Telecom and Unitech Group.

DMK MP Kanimozhi and Kalaignar TV MD Sharad Kumar are already in Tihar Jail in 2G case.

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