Virat Kohli’s Video on Outdoor Sports: HC Takes Suo Motu Cognizance

In an order dated September 18, 2023, the Uttarakhand High Court took suo motu cognizance of a social media post by cricketer, Virat Kohli, to “address the issue of deprivation of the rights of children to play in lawns, playgrounds and open areas, in their respective localities”.[1]

The children, as depicted in the video, weren’t permitted to play sports in their locality and responding to a grievance of a young boy, Kohli is seen playing cricket with the kids in the locality. While playing, the cricket ball lands on the balcony of an elderly woman’s flat. Kohli then approaches the elderly woman and shares a message about the importance of letting children play in the locality.

The Court emphasised the health benefits and other factors associated with outdoor sports and the adverse effects of not allowing children to play sports in their colonies. It was remarked that the Central Government’s Khelo India programme did not address the issues pertaining to children being unable to play outdoor sports in their colonies. With this, the Court sought responses from the Union and the state government.

When the matter came up for hearing on October 9, the Court asked the State to furnish an outline or structure of the steps being taken by it in pursuance of the present petition. Though the Court appreciated the Central Government’s contention that sports was a State subject, it was held that the Centre “should lend its weight and support by supplementing the efforts that the State Government may make in this regard as it would involve development of infrastructure at local / colony levels”.

The matter will be heard next on December 5, 2023.

[1] Suo Moto PIL: In the matter of “Let The Children Play” by increasing the facilities of sports vs. Principal Secretary, Department of Women Empowerment & Child Development and Ors. [WP(PIL) No. 147 of 2023]