Focus on Sports Minister Harin Fernando as Sri Lanka awaits introduction of Bill on prevention of offenses relating to Sports

Written by N Krishnamurthy

The much awaited Bill on Prevention of Offences Relating to Sports has been gazetted after months of deliberation by the Sports Ministry, Attorney General’s Department and the Legal Draftsman. As It awaits passage in Parliament to make all sports-related corruption, particularly match-fixing and illegal and betting, criminal offences, Now all hopes are on country’s Sports Minister Harin Fernando to ensure the smooth process in getting approvals from the cabinet and parliament house in order to make it a law .

The gazette was issued on August 23, 2019. The law carries jail terms and hefty fines to deter potential criminals.

Once passed, Sri Lanka will be the first Asian country–following in the footsteps of South Africa, England, Australia and New Zealand–to introduce such a law. It covers every aspect of corruption including engaging in betting, gambling, match-fixing, providing inside information for benefits, financial or otherwise, and any action that brings the sport into disrepute. It gives power to charge suspects under Sri Lanka’s judicial system.

The new law has strong sanctions for those found guilty. These include a jail term of up to 10 years, a fine not exceeding Rs 100mn, or both fine and imprisonment for the offence of match-fixing (covering spot fixing and pitch fixing), offence of corruption in sports, offence of unlawful betting and aiding, abetting and conspiring in the commission of any offence.

At this particular time, the Bill will surely be helpful in prevention of illegal practices in Sports, particularly in cricket in Sri Lanka. In last one year, the Sri Lanka Cricket has been marred with all sort of controversies – match fixing allegations, bans, corruptions.

That’s why, Harin Fernando has a big task in his hands to make it a law without any further delay. After taking over as Sports Minister of Sri Lanka in December last year, Harin has successfully conducted SLC election, knocked out Thilanga Sumathipala and has managed to garner praise, and support as well, from the International Cricket Council (ICC) for his efforts to clean up the sport.

However, in his task to pass the said bill, first he has to get the approval from the cabinet first. That’s where, the unforeseen powers, interested parties are trying to prolong the process by artificial obstacles. As Sri Lanka have entered into the election territory – Presidential election in November followed by general election – interested parties knows very well that if they can manage to drag it for few more weeks, it will be postponed until the general election and then it can be swept under the carpet as well if a favourable government comes into power.

That’s why Harin needs to make it sure that before the dissolvement of the parliament, Sri Lanka just create history by implementing Bill on prevention of offenses relating to Sports as a law!


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N Krishnamurthy