The Central Information Commission (CIC) has ruled that the Delhi Soccer Association (DSA) is a public authority under the Right to Information Act.
"The Commission has no hesitation to declare unequivocally, that being under the control of Government of India, AIFF and with grant of monopoly, that is totally established over the sport of Football within territory of NCR of Delhi, the Delhi Soccer Association is a body controlled and substantially financed by the Government of India and hence the public authority under Section 2(h) of RTI Act, 2005," Information Commissioner Prof. M. Sridhar Acharyulu observed.
The CIC was hearing an Appeal filed by Mr. D.K. Bose, who had sought information of the status of various complaints received by DSA office bearers. He had further sought details of the members of the sexual harassment committee formed by the DSA as well as the minutes of meetings of such committee. The information was sought in view of the fact that sexual harassment allegations had been filed against DSA's Vice-President.
During the hearing, the CIC noted that the DSA is the only State level sports body for football in Delhi and concluded, "It is thus an intrinsic part of the public authority with all the powers, finances and support from the federation to conduct, promote and select teams in the Football sport."
It further noted that the DSA's submissions are "self-contradictory", as it had provided some information while claiming that it was not bound to provide any. It then rapped the DSA for its conduct, observing, "This is highly unbecoming of a sports body. In fact, being a public body concerned with public activity like football, the DSA should have voluntarily disclosed entire information about it, including the bits and pieces asked by the appellant in this and several other appeals, and fulfill its obligation under Section 4 of RTI Act. They want all authority over the sport in Delhi for them and them alone but do not want to share the information.
Unfortunately, it appeared from their submissions that it prefers to blame the appellant and banish him without information. The DSA should understand that it is answerable to each and every sports person and sports lover in this country and has an obligation to the nation to bring out highly meritorious football players from the National Capital Region of Delhi, without quarrelling to deny information."
With regard to the allegations, Prof. Sridhar opined, "The DSA will decide the future of youth in football. It has to encourage the sports persons in fair manner based on merit and no other consideration. The DSA cannot escape the responsibility of creating and maintaining conducive atmosphere for all sporting youth, especially football playing girls, for growth and encouragement. The frequent complaints by the girls/women sportspersons including sexual harassment against an important executive like Vice President reflect unhealthy atmosphere that is prevalent in DSA, for which it has to responsibly account for."
In the light of such findings, the Commission directed the DSA to appoint a Public Information Officer (PIO) within 30 days and update their website, specifying the information about its constitution and members.
The Commission further directed the DSA to inform Mr. Bose of the action taken on the sexual harassment complaints against it, without disclosing the name of the complainant. In case the allegations have been found to be prima facie correct, it has also ordered that Mr. Bose be informed of the grounds for the official's continuation in the office.