The Central Information Commission has issued a show-cause notice to the secretary general of Hockey India, Rajinder Singh, regarding a case related to the Hockey India League.

The commission asked Singh to explain why the maximum penalty should be not imposed on him for “obstructing the statutory functioning” by not sending them original documents required for a hearing, reported PTI.

Information Commissioner Sridhar Acharyulu had sought documents related to the case filed by the Bharatiya Janata Party’s Member of Parliament Kirti Azad, who had demanded to know the sponsorship amount, commission paid to get sponsorship, and payments made to lawyers, among other details, regarding the Hockey India League.

Azad had approached the CIC after he did not get a satisfactory response to his queries from Hockey India. During the hearing, Hockey India produced documents to indicate that the BJP lawmaker has an “axe to grind” against a Union minister, which is why he was seeking the information. This contention was rejected by the commission.

After Hockey India produced the required documents to the CIC in a sealed cover, the commission observed that crucial information in the sponsorship contracts, including the sponsor’s fee and the consideration amount agreed upon, was blackened out. “It means that Hockey India does not want even the commission to see the original documents, and complete contents of their photostat copies,” Acharyulu said.

Acharyulu also said that he would have “ordinarily” issued a show-cause notice to Hockey India’s Central Public Information Officer Ranjit Gill, who had failed in his statutory duties to provide complete information. However, Hockey India being such a rich and huge powerful public authority, it is not possible for these small offices to act independently, he noted.

“The commission found that the decision makers of public authority did not respect the undertaking of their counsel Shyel Trehanand, the direction of the CIC,” he said. “As per that undertaking they had to submit the original papers in sealed cover for examining the so-called commercial element, confidentiality etc as claimed by the respondent authority. Thus, the authorities of HI obstructed the statutory functioning of the commission.”

Rejecting Hockey India’s contentions – regarding commercial confidence, internal laws, compromise of competitive position and the Hockey India League being a separate body – to deny the disclosure of information sought by Azad, Acharyulu directed the national federation to reveal the sponsorship amount received by it, the commission paid to get sponsorship and legal expenses incurred.

Acharyulu also said that Hockey India’s contention that it receives no funding from the Indian government is factually incorrect as the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports, and the Sports Authority of India, release grants for players and bear the cost of their travel, besides granting monopoly to Hockey India.

With inputs from PTI