Sports law in India


Sports is a very important part of every person, culture, society, country and in one way or other everyone is connected through sports whether one is playing, or watching. In some countries there are laws and regulations on sports and even the United Nations has framed conventions related to physical education, sports and discrimination in sports. In regard to this, India has a long way to go as there is no comprehensive law dealing with sports-related matters. Less importance is given about sports in our country as most of the schools and parents give more preference to the academic performance of a child. Also, India is largely failing in major sports events, such as Olympics and one of the main reasons is the lack of uniform regulations of sports and there is a need for a legislation that govern sports in our country.


The history of sports in our country dates back to vedic era. Chess, wrestling, polo, archery and hockey are some of the games believed to have originated in India. Webster’s Dictionary defines ‘Sport’ as – any activity or experience that gives enjoyment or recreation, pastime, diversion or such an activity requiring more or less vigorous bodily exertion and carried on according to some traditional form or set of rules, whether outdoors, as football, hunting, golf, racing, etc., or indoors, as basketball, bowling, squash, etc.With respect to India, a sport has been a way to realize the potential of a body to its fullest. It is not only restricted to realization of one’s physical potential but also the method to develop of better physique and inculcating the art of defence.

Little importance regarding to sports law is given in our country and there are various federations such as the Board of Cricket Control India for Cricket, the Hockey India which was formed after the dismissal of Indian Hockey Federation was dismissed in 2008 by IOAfor Hockey, the All India Football Federation for Football, the Indian Basketball Association for Basketball, the All India Tennis Federation for the Tennis, and the Indian Olympic Association and the Sports Authority of India to regulate sports. But apart from cricket, our country is failing in major events. All these federations’ works for the development of the sport but there is no uniform laws to regulate the various issues of these sports.


The National Sports policy,1984/2001, whose main objective was to raise the standard of sports for the reason that it was degrading due to corruption, betting, etc. It was later realized that the Bill of the year 1984 was incomplete, and its implementation was not complete, and in a bid to revise the bill the same was reformulated in the year 2001. It was only after this policy that the lawmakers realized the importance of sports and therefore ‘Sports’ was included in the Constitution in the State list of the Seventh Schedule (Entry 33). The central government by the provisions of this policy aims to do excellence in sports on the national and global plane and collaborates with the state government and other agencies to do it.

The Sports Law and Welfare Association of India is a non-profit national organization whose main aim is to understand the work for the advancement of ethical sports law in India for promoting sports. It provides consultancy services on different matters like Indian sports policy, sports injuries, health and safety in sports, IP issues in sports, etc. and provides a forum for legal practitioners who represent different people, to set up rules for ethics for sportspersons.

The Sports Authority of India (SAI) is an apex National Sports body set up in the year 1984 by the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports for broad-basing and bringing excellence in sports across India as a whole. It is located across 9 regions at Bangalore, Gandhinagar, Chandigarh, Kolkata, Imphal, Guwahati, Bhopal, Lucknow and Sonepat; and two Academic institutions like Netaji Subhash National Institute of Sports (NSNIS), Patiala and Laxmibai National College of Physical Education. It also accounts for academic programs like coaching and physical education awareness programme.

The Sports Broadcasting Signals (Mandatory Sharing with Prasar Bharati) was passed in 2007 whose main aim was to give access to listeners and viewers to encourage a larger audience and it shall cover the sporting events which are of national importance through mandatory sharing of sports broadcasting signals with Prasar Bharati and for matters related to it. The Act provides that no content right owner or holder or television or radio broadcasting service provider can carry out a live TV broadcast of important national sporting events. For doing this, it has to share its live broadcasting signal simultaneously (except advertisements) with the Prasar Bharati.

The centre has set up a National Anti-Doping Agency (NADA), which is formed by the Union Government under the societies Registration Act. NADA includes scientists and representatives from the Indian Olympic Association(IOA) It was set up in regard to thecontroversy regarding the intake of dope by sports persons and helps in the regulation of sports activities so that it can be corruption-free and non-controversial.

Although under 7th schedule of state list, entry 33 of the Indian Constitution, enacting of sports Law is subject matter of state but no state has enacted any law governing sports. In 2011, National Sports Development Code was enacted to govern the National Sports Federations in India whose validity was upheld in the case of Delhi High Court in Indian Olympic Association v. Union of India.The National Sports Federations discharges their duties in consonance with the principles laid down in the Olympic Charter or the Charter of the Indian Olympic Association whose responsibilities are complete management, direction, supervision and regulation of the discipline and promotion, development and sponsorship of the discipline in sports. The Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports directly has the control over the work of administration and funding of sports which is headed by a cabinet minister and managed by the National Sports Federations.


Sporting has become like any other economic activity in our country and there is a requirement of common laws to regulate sports in our country otherwise, in whose absence it may make sports more vulnerable and leads to exploitation. Even the United Nations, in its resolution 58/5 adopted by its General Assembly in 2003, has recognized sport as a means to promote education, health, development and peace.The existing policies and authorities are not enough to achieve the objective and there is the requirement of a new model to be made to govern the sports in our country. Sports are not for recreational purposes alone and it is a matter of national pride now and for the very same reason the intervention of legislature is a must.

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