October 30, 2018 05:07 PM

Chandigarh (Subhash Jindal)

Punjab and Haryana Highcourt on Tuesday directs State of Punjab to release  cash awards to sports persons on or before November 15th, or Chief Secretary to appear personally  for explanation. 

A Division Bench of the HC comprising CJ and Justice Arun Palli today directed the State of Punjab to release cash awards for the session 2015-2016, and 2016-2017 to sports persons on or before November 15th, failing which Chief Secretary, Punjab shall have to appear personally in the HC, for explaining the reasons.

In case however, cash awards are released before that date, in that event, an affidavit to that effect will be filed, in which situation, CS, Punjab need not appear personally. It is pertinent to state that Law Officer of Punjab Government had given an undertaking in the HC on 9.5.2018 that the cash awards were in the process of being released. However, even after lapse of more than 5 months, the assurance was not carried out. Today’s strict orders came as the CJ’s Bench felt that respondent State was not serious in giving undertaking in the HC.

The aforesaid directions have been given in the PIL filed by Advocate H.C. Arora. In his PIL, advocate Hari Chand Arora has stated that under Sports Policy-2010 notified by the Punjab Government, students/young persons who achieve first , second or third positions in various competitions at State or National or International level are entitled to cash awards of amounts mentioned therein.

However, the Punjab Government has indifferent attitude towards implementation of the said policy. It did not disburse cash awards to such achievers for the period 2010 to 2015, and it disbursed such cash awards only in August, 2015, on a PIL being filed by the present petitioner.

Now again, the students are yet to be paid cash amounts for such awards for the session 2015-2016, and also for session 2016-2017. In response to an RTI application filed by the petitioner, he was informed by the office of Director (Sports) that no arrangement or budgetary provisions have been made so far for disbursement of such cash awards. As per RTI Information, there are such 1020 students who are yet not paid cash awards for session 2015-2016, though applications were invited from them through public advertisement. 

As per RTI information received by the petitioner, the various disciplines/games/competitions include (i) All India University Games; (ii) Senior National Championship; (iii) National School Games; (iv) National Para olympics; (v) 31st National Junior Athletics Championship; (vi) National Level Rural Sports Competitions; (vii) 90th Open Punjab Athletic Championship; (viii) 16th National Paraolympic Championship-2016; (ix) National Women Championship; (x) South Asian Games, 2016 held at Guwahati in February, 2016 etc. 

The petitioner also submitted that amount of such cash awards is also paltry, and it hardly meets the expenses of the students for preparing and participating such competitions. For instance, for achieving first, second and third position in Inter-University tournaments, the cash award specified is Rs.15,000/-, Rs.12,000/- and Rs.10,000/- respectively. The State Government is thus,, in a way, discouraging the prospective Olympians. The conduct of the State Government is against the spirit of Sports Policy. 

Earlier, in its affidavit filed on 2.1.2018, the Sports department had stated that it had sent a proposal to State Finance Department for releasing an amount of Rs.ten crores for disbursement of cash awards mentioned above.


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