Within hours of a controversy generated by the issuing of a notification asking sportspersons to deposit one-third of their earnings with the Haryana Sports Council, the state government put the notification on hold. Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar tweeted that he had put the notification on hold and called for the file. "I have asked for the relevant file of Sports Department to be shown to me & the notification dated 30th April to be put on hold till further orders. We are proud of the immense contribution by our sportspersons & I assure them of a just consideration of all issues affecting them," Khattar tweeted on Friday evening.
The Haryana government drew flak from the sporting fraternity over its move to seek one-third earnings of its sportspersons who have government jobs.
The state government had earlier on Friday defended its decision to do so. The notification issued by the Sports and Youth Welfare Department Principal Secretary Ashok Khemka had directed sportspersons from Haryana to hand over one third of their earnings from professional events and endorsement to the sports council.
"One third of the income of sportspersons from professional sports or commercial endorsement will be deposited with the Haryana State Sports Council. The money shall be used for development of sports in the state," the order signed by Khemka on April 27 read.
Though the move has drawn widespread condemnation from athletes, Sports Minister Anil Vij as well as Khemka, a senior IAS officer, defended the move.
"There is nothing new in this decision. It is an old government rule. Under Rule 56, if a government employee earns professional or commercial income, he has to deposit one third of the earning with the state government. We had allowed (international boxer) Vijender Singh to play professionally. The (Punjab and Haryana) High Court asked us to frame rules in this regard. We have brought out the rules now," Vij said on Friday.
Khemka said the notification had been issued after the state gave an assurance to the court that the Haryana government would bring a policy vis-a-vis those who play professional sports.
"Normally, government employees are not allowed to play professional sports. The money will be used for the benefit of sportspersons only," he said.
On the other hand, star wrestler Geeta Phogat told a TV channel: "This new rule makes a mockery of sportspersons. There is no such rule for cricketers who earn much more than those from other sports. Cricketers make a lot of money from endorsement but those from other sports like boxing, kabaddi, and wrestling do not earn much."
"If we give up a third of our earnings, what will be left for us?" she asked.
International sportspersons like wrestler Sushil Kumar and others have also questioned Haryana's move to "take away the hard-earned money of sportspersons". The notification has a direct bearing on a number of international and national sportspersons from Haryana, employed by various state government departments. That is not all.
Sportspersons employed by government departments and participating in professional sports or commercial endorsements with the approval to be treated as on duty will have to deposit their full income with the council.
"In case a sportsperson is treated on duty with the prior approval of the competent authority while taking part in professional sports or commercial endorsement, the full income earned by the sportsperson on this account will be deposited with the Sports Council," the notification added.
Sportspersons from Haryana, including several women, have brought laurels to the country in the Olympics, Commonwealth Games and Asian Games in recent years.
As many as 22 of the 66 medals won by India at the Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, Australia in April were won by sportspersons from Haryana.