The Rajiv Khel Ratna, India's highest sports honour, will not be shared in future, except in the case of Olympic medal winners, the Sports Ministry said on Wednesday.
There have been four occasions previously when the Rajiv Khel Ratna was awarded to more than one sportsperson, but the ministry said such cases would be an exception in future.
"There will be only one award every year in the category of Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award to be given to an individual sportsperson. This condition will be relaxed only in exceptional circumstances, viz winning of an Olympic medal," read a statement from the ministry on Wednesday.
In 1994-95, two yachtsmen, Homi Motivala and Pushpendra Garg, shared the award. Tennis doubles ace Leander Paes and weightlifter Kunjarani Devi shared it in 1996-97, while shooter Anjali Vedpathak-Bhagwat and 400 metres runner K M Beenamol shared it in 2002-3.
Last year (2009) there were three who shared the award: Boxers Vijender Singh, M C Marykom and grappler Sushil Kumar.
This decision was taken following recommendations by a committee formed by the Department of Sports in August to review the process of selection for national sports awards.
The committee made recommendations to further rationalise the existing schemes and make the selection process more transparent.
The ministry has made necessary amendments in the Schemes of National Sports Awards.
Under the new amendments, the principle of one award per discipline in respect of the Arjuna award has been removed in respect of team sports and across gender.
Arjuna awards, exceeding 15 in number, may be allowed with proper justification and approval of the sports minister. The three-year limitation for conferment of the Arjuna award posthumously has been removed.
In respect of the Dronacharya award, out of the five awards, two have been earmarked for life-time contribution in coaching.
Further, the present restrictive clause that the coach should have trained the athlete in question during the immediate two years preceding the performance has been removed. Now, the overall view of value addition by the coach in the outstanding achievements of his/her disciples/trainees will be taken.
Further, the nominated coach will have to submit details of periods for which he/she coached the disciple(s) in question against whose performance he/she is seeking the award. This should be corroborated with an affidavit to that effect from the disciple(s) concerned.
The government will have the right to nominate any deserving sportsperson/coach, in all categories of National Sports Awards, who has been left out or not nominated by any of the nominating agencies.
There will be a minimum two years gap before a member other than ex-officio is re-nominated as chairperson or member in the selection committees.
The sports administrators category has been broad-based to include reputed persons from private sports academies for nomination as members in the selection committees.
Any person directly or indirectly related to a coach/sportsperson nominated for the awards shall not be eligible to participate in deliberations of the selection committee, concerning that sportsperson.