Central Information Commissioner, Prof. M Sridhar Acharyulu, in the case of Subhash Chandra Agrawal v. PIO, Department of Sports, declared the BCCI to be a public authority and directed the Board to disclose information sought by the RTI applicant.
In this case Subhash Chandra Agarwal, the complainant, had sought information regarding whether or not the PMO was aware of the disparity in the prize money awarded to cricket players and hockey players and regarding the accountability of the BCCI. The detailed questions on which information was sought are as follows:
The CPIO contended that as per the government’s policy to declare every national sports federation as a public authority, BCCI too is a public authority. However, no response was given to the complainant’s query as to why BCCI, being a public Authority, isn’t disclosing information as per Section 4(1)(b) of the RTI Act. The complainant also sought to know why the BCCI was still using the logo from the British raj days instead of switching to a truly national symbol like the tricolor or the Ashoka Chakra.
The Justice Mudgal Committee had, in 2014 while probing the IPL scam, had highlighted the need for a special legislation to make all malpractices in sports a criminal offence. The PMO asked the Youth and Sports Affairs Department to consider whether a standalone Act was needed or whether the IPC could be sufficient to deal with malpractices in sports. However, beyond this consultation with the Law Commission, no progress has been traced in the matter.
The Minister of Youth and Sports Affairs, while answering an un-starred question, stated that in 2010, the Government had conferred the status of public authorities to all National Sports Federations receiving a grant of Rs. 10,00,000 and above. Further these Federations discharge state-like functions while performing tasks such as national team selections and regulating the sports in the country. The BCCI has been considered to be a National Sports Federation and represents the country in various international events. However, the BCCI does not directly receive any grants from the government, but does enjoy certain privileges like concessions in income tax and customs duty by the central government and allocation of lands to Cricket Associations by the State governments. BCCI received tax exemptions as a charitable institution till 30.06.2006.
The Commission took into consideration the aforementioned contentions and noted that the government’s decision to categorically award the status of a public authority to BCCI is reflected in the thousands of crores of tax exemptions that the Board enjoyed and the representation of India in international events. This is a clear grant of monopoly to BCCI over the Cricket in India.
The Lodha Committee, in order to facilitate transparency in the functioning of the BCCI suggested “that clear principles of transparency be laid down, and the BCCI website and office will carry all rules, regulations and office orders of the BCCI, the constitution of the various committees, their resolutions, the expenditures under various heads, the reports of the Ombudsman/Auditor/Electoral Officer/Ethics Officer and the annual reports and balance sheets.”
The Commission further noted that since BCCI enjoys a monopoly over cricket, it is bound to disclose information to the citizens under the RTI Act.
It is also directed to answer the following questions
a) Why the Indian Cricket team even now carrying the logo of BCCI instead of sporting the Union of India symbol? Why the BCCI is still using the logo designed by British Raj in 1928 which resembles 90 per cent the symbol of star of India given by British Raj to his loyal princes, as mentioned in the order of CIC in CIC/MOYAS/A/2017/116693 on 9.6.2017? Why the Government of India does not change it to truly Indian Symbol with either tricolor or four lions or Ashoka’s Dharm Chakra or any other logo decided by the Government of India?
b) Why the Government of India, PMO or the MoYAS not taken any measures to implement its declaration that the BCCI as public authority under RTI Act, as per its answer to Loksabha referred above?
c) Why are not they bringing a uniform policy for rewarding winning international sports persons to prevent unhealthy competition for publicity among Governments?
d) Why the sports frauds like match fixing and betting are not prohibited and action was not being taken effectively?
e) What is the status of action on the Bill to prevent sports frauds?
The Commission directed the PMO, Ministry of Law and the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports to explain their stand on the above questions, which are supposed to have been answered as part of their obligation under Section 4(1)(b) of RTI Act, more importantly it has to answer the Supreme Court, Lodha Committee and the appellant why RTI is not being implemented by BCCI, if it is recognized as National Sports Federation, within 30 days from the date of receipt of this order.
Read the Order here.