Monday, the SC accepted major recommendations of the Lodha Committee on
reforms including a bar on ministers and civil servants and those above
70 from becoming its members.
But the highlight of SC Chief Justice TS Thakur and Justice Ibrahim
Kalifulla judgment was it adapted the recommendation of the committee –
headed by retired Chief Justice of India R.M. Lodha
– to make sports betting legal through an enacted legislation,
according to Lawyer Vidushpat Singhania, a sports law expert and a
partner at Krida Law.
“The Supreme Court yesterday has directed the Indian legislature at
the central level to consider legalization of sports betting within the
country,” Singhania, which provided a softcopy of the judgment to
CalvinAyre.com, said in an e-mail.
In 143-page judgment, the magistrates agreed with the committee that sports betting
and match fixing were not the same bananas when they gave their stamp
of approval for the legalization of sports betting in India.
The SC, however, left the decision to make sports betting legal in
India to the Parliament since the issue “involves the enactment of a Law
which is a matter that may be examined by the Law Commission and the
“While the latter [match fixing] interferes with the integrity of the
game and attempts to change the course of the match, the former [sports
betting] is a general malaise indulged by different sections of the
society not only with reference to cricket but other games also,” said
the ruling. “The Committee considers the match/ spot-fixing as
unpardonable and opines that the only way to deal with the same
effectively is to make it punishable by law. The Committee in that
regard recommends appropriate amendment by the legislature.”
The SC pointed out that betting by administrators Players, Match
Officials, Team Officials, Owners, etc., should continue to be an
offense under the BCCI and IPL Rules and Regulations.
As safeguard against match-fixing, the SC suggested certain measures
like preparing Cricketers Handbook for young players, arranging lectures
and interactions with cricket players and sport persons of
unimpeachable integrity with regard to game ethics.
“The Committee has on the basis of responses and opinions tendered
before it, recommended to the legislature to make the same legal with
certain safeguards enlisted in the report,” it said. “ The Committee has
made certain recommendations to fulfill the need to educate and
sensitize young players and debutants about the game ethics and the need
to inculcate discipline and integrity among players.”
States in India currently have their own laws relating to betting and
gambling, which the BCCI senior counsel said is not feasible enought to
address the issue of cricket wagering in the country.
India has already flirted with the idea of legalizing sports betting,
but the legislature has yet to act on it. The country’s gambling market
is governed by the Public Gaming Act 1867, which has been the focus of
modernization for many gaming industry stakeholders.
The issue of sports betting law was thrust into the spotlight by the
2013 spot-fixing controversy surrounding the Indian Premier League