The Centre is set to enact a comprehensive and exclusive law, the first-ever, to punish crime in sports, including spot- and match-fixing.

Proposed to be presented in Parliament in the monsoon session beginning in August, the law will also treat disclosure of privileged information to outsiders for monetary gain or in order to help others benefit as a crime equivalent to insider trading in corporate law. It is also likely to have a provision to penalize other sports crimes, such as bribing members of a team for underperformance.

The decks for a central law were cleared with attorney general GE Vahanvati opining that the Centre was fully competent to draft a comprehensive law to deal with the menace of fixing, both match and spot, and other sports crimes. The Centre was unsure whether it had the jurisdiction to do so, "sports" being the responsibility of states under the Constitution.

The legislative department is already working on the contours of the legislation, and Vahanvati's go-ahead will spur the effort. Law minister Kapil Sibal had mooted the proposal in response to the shocking disclosures of sport-fixing in IPL.

Vahanvati has drawn a distinction between "sports" and "crimes in sporting events" to argue that the Centre was fully equipped to frame the anti-sports crime law.

In his opinion running into seven pages, the top law officer also argued that a separate law would be needed and that, given the scale of the problem, mere insertion of a specific provision dealing with sports crime in the Indian Penal Code would not be adequate.

"Dishonesty in sports is a matter of grave national and international importance. Worldwide experience in this behalf shows how seriously countries have taken this matter after corruption in sports raised its ugly head in the last decade or so," Vahanvati said.

To prevent and curb illegal practices in sports, he said a comprehensive legislation enacted by the Centre was absolutely necessary and "can and must be justified".

In his opinion to the government, he said since crime in sports does not find a mention anywhere in the Seventh Schedule, which demarcates the legislative domains for the Centre and the states, the Union government could resort to Entry 97 of List-I (central list).

The AG said Entry 97 of List-I empowered the Centre to legislate on subjects not enumerated in List-II (state list) and List-III (concurrent list where both Centre and states have power to legislate on an issue like education). Inclusion of 'sports' as Entry 33 in List-II would not empower states to legislate on crimes in sports, he said.

"In my opinion, dishonest practices like match-fixing and spot-fixing are so abhorrent to the concept of sport that they cannot fall within the concept of 'sports' occurring in Entry 33 and as explained by the Supreme Court in the Cricket Association of Bengal case. The power to regulate these activities cannot flow from the term 'sports' in Entry 33," Vahanvati said.

"In my opinion, therefore, dishonest practices like match-fixing/spot-fixing in sporting events do not fall within the scope of Entry 33 of List-II. Problems like match-fixing/spot-fixing transcend provincial borders. These are serious issues of national importance, and the power to control, regulate and curb these cannot be said to flow from Entry 33," he said.

To overcome the apparent constitutional bar for Centre to legislate on the issue because of inclusion of 'sports' under the legislative domain of states, the AG looked into the debate in Constituent Assembly to cull out the intent of the framers of the Constitution in giving exclusive jurisdiction over sports to states.

He said the Constituent Assembly debate on the issue reflected the correct picture - the real purpose behind introduction of the term 'sports' in List-II was to enable the states to regulate places where sports were conducted, for example the ground, theatre etc.

"It is clear that the mandate of the Constitution, as far as the states are concerned, would be to promote sports and provide facilities for such sports by having proper playgrounds, gymnasia and stadia. Needless to say, this would not be restricted to playgrounds, gymnasia and stadia, but the obligation of the states would be to cover, promote, and provide all necessary facilities for the promotion of sports," he said.