This article explores the steps involved in a typical disciplinary process, such as reporting, investigation, hearings, and appeals.

The article 'Disciplinary Procedures of Sports' explores the steps involved in a typical disciplinary process, such as reporting, investigation, hearings, and appeals. Discipline within the world of sports is a crucial aspect that ensures fair play, ethical conduct, and the integrity of sports competitions.


There is no all-encompassing sports law code in India. Instead, sports are covered under a concurrent list in its Constitution which allows for laws regarding athletic competition at both federal and state levels to be developed and passed into legislation. Many Indian states including Kerala, Rajasthan and Himachal Pradesh have taken initiatives to create their own sports legislation; they aim to expand access to sporting activity for all while raising athletic standards within each of these regions.

Due to an absence of sports legislation in India, amateur, professional and international sporting activities must abide by various regulations such as contract law, employment law, tax law, competition law, privacy protection law and defamation law, among others.

Steps in the process of Sports Disciplinary Actions

Received Complaint - Anyone found engaging in misconduct will face consequences that depend on its severity; within five days after an alleged offence has taken place, written complaints must be sent directly to the Sport Office/Union office for action to be taken against that member/participant.

Investigation - Once an incident is identified, an appropriate body will initiate an investigation to analyze it thoroughly. Individuals involved will be contacted through telephone calls or other methods and allowed to respond directly. Once all information has been compiled and analysed, agents or groups involved must determine whether action against those accused should be taken against them; at times such decisions require careful thought regarding mediation as an avenue. It should always be remembered that people often resort to legal disciplinary actions as they cannot find other means for settling their differences than taking formal legal actions themselves.

The Appeal Process - Sports regulations provide clubs and individuals who feel wronged by an adverse judgement an opportunity to appeal, under certain conditions.

Recurring Infractions - Any subsequent crimes after having already received a warning will be seen as worse and therefore warrant immediate punishments and warnings may remain valid for one year and calculated from the day it is sent. All penalties can also be assessed immediately upon offences occurring.

Disciplinary Actions

Once all necessary information has been amassed, an agent or group must decide if legal action against an individual should be pursued - this decision marks an essential stage in assessing if mediation would be suitable in this instance. Disciplinary measures should only be pursued once all other options have been exhausted for resolving differences. Any member who violates these rules will face immediate disciplinary measures.

Before any hearing takes place, an accused must be informed openly and truthfully about any allegations brought forward against them, to avoid an unfair trial process. They also should have access to any supporting evidence which might assist their case - this way you avoid shocking them into conflict in future!

General Principles

Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights serves as an ideal starting point. National governing bodies of sport likely don't fall under its purview, although this could change depending on future legislation; its contents, however, serve as models of best practice; for example: Article 6 affirms "each party shall enjoy their right to an independent and impartial tribunal established by law and to a fair hearing without adjournments of any sort".

Common law recognizes the concept that disciplinary procedures must adhere to natural justice norms in their design and operation, including fairness, clarity and transparency as primary goals of such proceedings. Furthermore, all procedures about disciplinary action should strictly abide by them to provide "natural justice" in its full sense and effect.

An essential goal of any disciplinary procedure should be to submit those under investigation to an impartial entity and ensure all are treated fairly. Since this procedure does not impose legal proceedings-style formality requirements, its procedural needs can be quicker and cheaper. Furthermore, those affected by it need a clear understanding of what will occur next. Information can easily be located and found from one accessible document, decreasing the likelihood that any disciplinary process might be challenged on appeal or in court. Difficult situations will always arise; however, systems meeting "fit for purpose" threshold levels aim to minimize both appeals and costly litigation costs.

Organisation of Sports Governing Bodies in India

Indian judges view sports as being of public interest due to their significant effect on individuals' mental and physical well-being, as well as their capacity for creating interpersonal harmony. Sports management forms one of the many responsibilities assigned to each state within India's governmental structure; certain states like Rajasthan and Haryana have passed laws designed to incentivize sports within their borders by creating local, district, and state-level sports associations while simultaneously dealing with any related matters; additionally several have developed specific guidelines regarding games within their states.

At present, India's central government assumes control of sports at both national and international levels, overseeing them via the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports (MYAS). Regarding domestic efforts, various federations/organizations exist which administer national sporting endeavours within MYAS.

i. Structure of Organisations - MYA has charged the Department of Sports with setting policies and guidelines as well as defining eligibility conditions for national sports federations (NSFs). Furthermore, to ensure Indian athletes compete fairly at international tournaments, the Department of Sports oversees Sports Authority of India operations while serving as an advisory body to MYAS. Finally, the All India Council for Sports acts as an advisory body.

Sports Authority of India operates autonomously within its operating systems, focusing on talent discovery, national team development and international competitions while simultaneously carrying out additional Department of State (DOS) programs. Cooperation occurs amongst these bodies as well as with the Indian Olympic Association, national sports federations (NSFs), state governments as well and various federations/organizations at municipal/state levels.

The International Olympic Committee, as a non-governmental organization, manages athlete eligibility for Olympic, Commonwealth Games, Asian Games and multi-sport tournaments around the globe. Comprised of various Indian governing bodies - National Sports Federations, individual state governing bodies multi-sport organizations district governing bodies etc - its composition ensures it serves its function efficiently as the authoritative body governing the Indian Olympic Committee.

National Athletic Federations of India are the primary governing bodies when it comes to athletics in India. Each of India's roughly sixty national sports federations (NSFs), dedicated to specific sports, and affiliated with NSFs at both district and state levels is affiliated with an NSF at both levels as a rule due to being societies or trusts; some NSFs may even have global confederations affiliation requirements depending on their organizational structure (MYAS guidelines or relevant international federation regulations must still be observed even though NSFs remain autonomous bodies without government interference!).

Not to be outdone by the Olympic Games, several other sports also boast their regulatory organizations. One such is cricket - where India's Board for Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) independently governs cricket within India without government assistance or support; international competitions through affiliation with the International Cricket Council still fall within this scope, yet BCCI does not hold National Sports Federation status and requires approval by Ministry of Home Affairs, MEA and Department of State before developing international plans can proceed.

According to India's legal framework, BCCI actions within India are subject to evaluation by its judiciary as set by the Supreme Court of India. Alongside fulfilling other public responsibilities and selecting India's cricket team, among other duties. Some governing sports organizations and National Sports Federations may operate similarly to charities while others operate more similarly to for-profit corporations.

ii Management of a Corporation - The Basic Universal Principles of Good Governance in Olympics and Sports have served as the cornerstone for policies designed to encourage good governance within sports. National initiatives focus on guidelines designed to prevent sexual discrimination against female athletes; efforts against age deception; as well as annually honouring NSFs for their great service to sports. Not only do the National Science Foundation and BCCI each maintain separate governance standards, but so too do other independent organisations cited above. At the All-India Football Federation (AIFF), their code of ethics includes anti-bribery regulations and behavior-regulating legislation, while in BCCI documents these include regulations on good governance and conflicts of interests - just two such subjects among many more.

iii. Liability of Corporations - Corporations face liability when engaging in unlawful practices that could potentially revoke or suspend their nonprofit status. When this occurs, any non-profit organisation (NPO) could lose this status permanently and face further consequences such as legal proceedings for operating improperly. Sports organizations incorporated under relevant statutes may face individual members being held liable under laws such as the Societies Registration Act of 1860 (and state-specific regulations) or the Companies Act of 2013.

Sports Federation Charter Agreements contain clauses regarding liability. Should members of Hockey India violate established laws, rules, and regulations of their organization (Hockey India Code of Conduct and Sanctions); similarly BCCI constitution holds members individually accountable for actions which might pose potential harm to both them as individuals as well as to cricket as an organization.

Dispute Resolution System

Legal Representation — How to handle internal matters and complaints :

Any individual or group who does not agree with a sports governing body's decision must first utilize its internal process for handling complaints or conflicts; for example, IOA members and National Sports Foundation (NFFs) adhere to India's National Sports Development Code 2011 as their guideline. The Code specifies that National Sports Federations must create an effective process for players to file complaints against each NSF, providing for various levels of challenges or reviews within each National Sports Federation to resolve disagreements quickly and amicably.

Some study centres funded by the government have taken proactive steps to implement safety measures. AIFF requires its members to include clauses in their contracts giving AIFF court bodies exclusive power over hearing cases; additionally, AIFF set up a disciplinary committee. Hockey India's decisions may be appealed through an appeals committee to both CAS and ICAS for review, while disputes should be taken to Hockey India's investigation committee, which in turn can refer them to Hockey India's executive board or Congress for further action if necessary.

IOA allows individuals to appeal decisions of the Complaints Commission, Arbitration Commission and Court of Arbitration of Sport (CAS). All members of NSF, SOA and IOA fall under these groups' governance; only when its own rules or an arbitration deal specifically allows this action will governing bodies utilize an arbitration board as permitted.

The BCCI has devised an efficient process to handle issues and provides its members with access to an independent fair judge who will settle any disagreements that may arise. Their rules outline which disputes can be taken to their Ombudsman while an ethics officer receives reports regarding possible conflicts of interest or any possible ethical violations that might occur within its ranks.

Use of the CAS - The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), with its headquarters located in Switzerland, serves as the highest authority in international sports for adjudicating disputes and solving them efficiently. CAS can only be invoked as part of an NSF rule regulation or arbitration agreement; since National Anti-Doping Rules 2021 permit an appeal to CAS, any party involved in doping disputes can pursue its jurisdiction. The Delhi High Court recently asked the Indian government to mandate National Sports Federations (NSFs) that are members of the National Olympic Council to include recourse to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) within their regulations - this provision currently does not exist with most NSFs.

MYAS issued a circular urging NSFs to take specific actions. First and foremost, NSFs should implement efficient, transparent, and fair processes for handling grievances quickly while quickly resolving disputes. Second, NSFs must include an arbitration clause permitting disputes to be submitted either to the Dispute Resolution Authority (DRA) or the International Court of Arbitration (ICA). However, it must be recognized that many Indian athletes face difficulties accessing the necessary funds and resources to contact the Court of Arbitration for Sport, given their economically disadvantage backgrounds despite possessing legal entitlement to do so.

Invoking the Writ Jurisdiction

At any point during a violation of one's legal or fundamental rights by individuals, state officials, or agencies, an individual can file a formal petition before either the Supreme Court or one of the high courts in their state to seek appropriate resolution or remedy. Sports management holds great significance as an undertaking undertaken on behalf of society that directly benefits Indian individuals, which explains why our judiciary has upheld that its writ jurisdiction extends to private sports organizations as well.

Courts serve as government bodies and thus possess writ jurisdiction over non-state institutions like non-profit organizations, intergovernmental organizations (IOAs), state-owned enterprises (SOAs) and district-level organizations which render public services and receive financial support from them. Courts gain jurisdiction due to this overlap in services rendered and financial assistance from these bodies by the government.

Although courts do have writ jurisdiction, they often avoid making what they view as executive decisions and focus their examination of sports governing bodies on the legality of decision-making procedures instead. Courts frequently utilize Wednesbury standards of reasonableness as the benchmark to assess claims of arbitrary decision-making. They typically intervene if an act or decision appears illogical, involves procedural irregularity, or significantly violates principles upheld by them.

Decisions by governing bodies regarding team selection, athlete suspensions, disciplinary proceedings, award bestowal and related matters typically fall solely within their purview. However, in certain instances, interference in writ jurisdiction may be considered necessary and justified. These situations could include instances when decisions or actions taken by governing bodies demonstrate bad faith, arbitrariness or violative of constitutional protections; when their discretionary powers are applied arbitrarily or capriciously contrary to established norms or principles; or when these bodies fail to uphold principles of fairness and due process during dispute resolution processes.

Sports arbitration laws in India are defined by the Arbitration and Conciliation Act of 1996 (commonly referred to as "The Arbitration Act"). This framework enables arbitration proceedings for both personal and business issues to take place without facing specific court restrictions; sports-related personnel procedures often prefer arbitration due to this legal framework.

In 2021, India established the Sports Arbitration Centre of India (SACI) to encourage sports-related disputes to be resolved via arbitration. Backed by India's Ministry of Law and Justice, SACI operates independently as an organisation dedicated to expeditious resolution.

An arbitration agreement must fulfil certain prerequisites to be valid and enforceable; these include being written down in written format either as an independent document or included within an existing contract agreement. For athletes or others involved in sports-related disputes, its enforceability depends on being included as part of their contracts with relevant governing bodies and following any relevant rules/regulations set by these bodies.

Before arbitration proceedings commence, the Arbitration Act gives courts considerable leeway when it comes to deciding if interim remedies should be granted. An arbitrator may take various interim measures, such as freezing funds appointing a receiver or securising any amounts claimed as due. Plaintiffs seeking interim relief in India typically must demonstrate a strong likelihood of success during the trial, an advantageous balance of circumstances, and that failure to grant relief would cause irreparable harm - although enforcement depends on its classification.

Foreign awards issued from countries party to either the New York Convention or Geneva Convention are considered foreign judgments; while an award rendered at an arbitration seated within India can be classified as domestic. Both types of judgements possess legal validity and can be enforced. Once an award has been decided upon and granted, chances for appealing it are limited. A court will only review such challenges on their merits if an arbitral tribunal takes an unfair position or disobeys principles of fairness in rendering its award decision.

Domestic grants present some potential hurdles as follows: parties' incompetence, the invalidity of the arbitration agreement, violation of natural justice principles or overly broad scope; improper process if the dispute relates to matters which cannot be arbitrated such as Indian law violations and manifestly illegal decisions by the arbitrator(s).

If any of the following situations apply to a foreign award, courts will refuse enforcement: 1.) Invalidated in its country of issuance due to several reasons including parties failing to fulfil their obligations, the invalidity of the arbitration agreement, inadequate notification of arbitrator appointment/procedures to one party (inadequate notification by arbitrators/court/etc), the inclusion of matters beyond scope/referee (ie matters outwith the designated scope of reference), incorrect composition/composition/applicable procedures of the arbitral tribunal and failure to adhere/ observe established procedures

Furthermore, courts possess the discretionary ability to block the implementation of arbitration if its nature or intent does not fit with current national policies in India.

Sports Contracts

Required Provisions: It is standard practice in sports federations to engage players under formal written contracts, which national governing bodies such as the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) take responsibility for negotiating and drafting. Contracts clearly outline various elements, including duration of engagement, compensation details and terms and conditions for termination. WFI allows fighters to enter into agreements with external organizations on condition that such agreements receive WFI's approval and include WFI as a participant party. Annually, BCCI in India releases player contracts indicating grades; players receive this amount annually as a maintenance fee payment; professional footballers work according to agreements reached between themselves and the team that hires them.

Allow Athletes to move around freely: If athletes compete for a federation, additional contractual obligations might exist for them. Football players, for instance, are subject to FIFA regulations which dictate they only play two different clubs during a single season and termination during this season is discouraged for additional reasons. Most Indian sports federations establish regulations regarding international participant travel within India: only four non-Indian athletes may enter starting elevens without first receiving no objection certificates before competing in domestic leagues here.

Sports Governing Bodies' Employment Regulations: When players act as independent contractors, their salaries, incentives and terms of service are determined through agreements between themselves and league or club owners. According to AIFF Transfer Regulations, female players are entitled to maternity leave as one benefit provided by federation members such as BCCI in India providing them a pension scheme; with financial rewards being given in proportional value (score). Furthermore, athletes receive other incentives including exclusive leave arrangements, financial rewards as well and dedicated career opportunities from their government employers.


India has long held an intense passion for sports, particularly cricket, which holds immense appeal among its people. Many Indians follow it with intense devotion; moreover, the Indian Premier League (IPL) has played an invaluable role in supporting its growth over time. Different factors, including franchise sports leagues, lucrative salaries for star players, expanding fan bases and media coverage both domestically and globally as well as profitable brand marketing agreements have seen an upward trend. Fantasy teams and online games have gained tremendous traction among sports enthusiasts; consequently, financial stakes associated with sports have skyrocketed.

Conflict is inevitable between media/programming rights holders, team selection and contractual obligations; plus there has been widespread criticism against sports governing bodies who fail to live up to their responsibilities effectively! As India faces increasing demands in sports law, both government and judiciary authorities have placed great emphasis on swift, transparent, accountable, and efficient mechanisms for resolving disputes quickly and fairly. As evidence of our collective work, there has been an encouraging effort to actively advocate arbitration as part of an emphasis on maximum transparency and unwavering accountability within sports governing bodies.


[1] Sports Disciplinary Action and Procedures, Available Here

[2] National Code for Good Governance in Sports, 2017, Available Here

[3] Sports Governance and Dispute Resolution in India, Available Here

[4] Disciplinary Procedures, Available Here

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Sanjoli Verma

Sanjoli Verma

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