The Central Information Commission has asked the Board of Control for Cricket (BCCI) in India to explain why it should not be declared a public authority under the RTI Act while opining that it should be made answerable and transparent in the interest of fair cricket and a fair selection of Indian cricket team members.
“…the Commission directs the CPIO/authorized representative of BCCI to explain why the Commission should not declare the BCCI as public authority in view of various judicial pronouncements and the Law Commission’s recommendation in its 275th Report,” CIC M Sridhar Acharyulu ordered.
He also asked the Ministry of Youth Affairs to present its stand in this regard while noting the submission of the Under Secretary that the Law Commission’s declaration of BCCI as a public authority is still under examination.
The CIC’s order comes on the plea of applicant Geeta Rani who had sought information from the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports about provision/ guidelines under which the BCCI has been representing India and selecting players for the country.
She had specifically sought to know whether the players selected by BCCI are playing for India or BCCI, how can BCCI (a private association) represent India in the national/ international cricket tournament, what is the benefit of Indian government to give rights/ authority to BCCI to represent India in domestic and international tournament etc., through 12 points.
The CPIO replied on December 14, 2017, that the information is not available with the ministry and since BCCI has not been declared as a public authority, her RTI application could not be transferred to BCCI.
Geeta then approached the CIC.
CIC Acharyulu was of the view that “the appellant has raised a very important issue regarding the status of the Cricket team selected by BCCI”.
“Her question whether it is “a Team India” or “Team BCCI”, raises an issue of exclusive authorisation of BCCI to select team for India. In fact, this exclusiveness of authorisation created a monopoly in favour of federal body of sports for Cricket called BCCI and because of which all its wealth is created. The Apex Court and other High Courts have expressed many a time that the BCCI performs a public function and it is straight away related to public activity because of which the BCCI should be accountable to public in general and in public interest. There have been several doubts raised by Ministry of Law and Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports, even after the recommendation of the Law Commission as to whether the BCCI do come under the purview of RTI Act,” he noted.
“The Commission thinks that it is the responsibility of the Central Information Commission to put an end to this prolonging uncertainty which makes the BCCI non-transparent and unaccountable without any moral backing and legal reasoning. Hence, the Commission thinks in public interest, in the interest of fair Cricket and for a fair process of selection of Indian Cricket team members, the BCCI should be made transparent, accountable and answerable under the Right to Information Act, 2005,” noted the CIC.
The matter is now fixed for August 1 when the BCCI and the Centre have to clear their stand on bringing the BCCI under the RTI Act.
It is to be noted that the CIC had in June, 2017 declared BCCI to be a public authority under the RTI Act while asking it to disclose information to RTI activist Subhash Chandra Agarwal, 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.