The Central Information Commission (CIC) has asked the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) and the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports why the former should not be answerable under the RTI Act in light of various judicial orders and a recent law commission report.
“It is the responsibility of the CIC to put an end to this prolonging uncertainty which makes the BCCI non-transparent and unaccountable without any moral backing and legal reasoning,” Information Commissioner Sridhar Acharyulu said.
The matter came before him as Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports did not give a satisfactory response to an RTI applicant, Geeta Rani, who had sought to know the provisions and guidelines under which the BCCI has been representing India and selecting players for the country.
The applicant also asked whether the players selected by BCCI are playing for India or for the association, how can a private association represent the country internationally, what is the benefit of the government in giving rights and authority to BCCI to represent the country in international tournaments among others, through the 12-pointer RTI application.
The ministry claimed it has no information available and since BCCI has not been declared as public authority under the RTI Act, the application could not be transferred to the BCCI.
Under secretary in the ministry Arun Kumar Singh submitted during the hearing that the law commission calling BCCI as public authority is still under examination.
After perusing records presented by the ministry, Acharyulu said it becomes important to hear whether the BCCI is answerable under the RTI Act.
“Her question whether it is ‘a Team India’ or ‘Team BCCI’, raises an issue of exclusive authorisation of the 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 the BCCI and because of which all its wealth is created,” he said.
‘BCCI should be accountable to public’
Acharyulu said the Supreme Court and other high courts have expressed several times 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 said.
The commission thinks in public interest, in the interest of fair cricket and for 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, he said.
“The commission directs the CPIO/authorised representative of the 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,” he said.
Acharyulu also directed the sports ministry to provide its explanation on the issue.