Supreme Court seeks opinion of Centre, states on plea to make sports fundamental right

Supreme Court seeks opinion of Centre, states on plea to make sports fundamental right
A football match being played in Srinagar's Synthetic Turf TRC ground. [Representational Image] File: Haseeb Ibn Hameed for Greater Kashmir

New Delhi: The Supreme Court has sought the opinion of the Centre and state governments on a suggestion that physical literacy or sports be recognised as a fundamental right and all education boards be asked to ensure at least 90 minutes of every school day to be dedicated to "free play and games".

A bench comprising justices L Nageswara Rao and B R Gavai said states' views were necessary as just passing a judgement would not help the cause.

Stressing the importance of physical activities, the bench said on Monday that involving children in sports will be useful as otherwise they will end up spending more time on screen.

The bench said sports is not seen as a career option by students.

"Many students do well till class 12 and after that they forget about it," Justice Rao said, adding that VVS Laxman, whose parents were doctors, chose cricket as his career and it seldom happens.

"Very few people would make that choice. We need more and more such people to emerge," said the bench.

Earlier in March, senior advocate Gopal Sankarnarayanan, who was appointed as an amicus curiae in a PIL filed by sports researcher Kanishka Pandey, had submitted a detailed report suggesting that physical literacy be recognised as a fundamental right.

The report had said that all education boards, including CBSE and ICSE, must be asked to ensure at least 90 minutes of every school day is dedicated to "free play and games".

In his PIL, Pandey has sought directions to the Centre and all states to make sports a part of the fundamental rights as well as ensure the promotion of sports education in the country.

In August 2018, the top court issued notices to the Centre and state governments on the PIL and had later appointed Sankarnarayanan as an amicus to assist it and suggest measures to deal with the issue.

The amicus, in its voluminous report, has dealt with various aspects relating to constitutional principles and sports, and given a slew of implementable directions.

One of the suggestions was for "physical literacy to be recognised as a fundamental right protected by Article 21 (protection of life and liberty) of the Constitution".

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