Madras High Court stays proceedings by CIC to bring BCCI under RTI Act
New Delhi: Madras High Court on Thursday stayed proceedings by Central Information Commission (CIC) to bring BCCI under the RTI Act.
A petition filed by RTI activist Madhu Agarwal on June 6 prompted the CIC to issue a notice to the Indian cricket board to appear before it on July 25 and 26 in New Delhi.
In its notice, the CIC has asked the BCCI and its member units to furnish details regarding whether it receives any government funding, details about income tax, customs duty and entertainment tax exemptions for the last five years.
A Supreme Court bench had ruled in February 2005 that BCCI was not a ‘State’ under Article 12 of the Constitution.
NEW DELHI: The BCCI will have to come under the ambit of Right to Information Act if it wants to use 'India' as its national team's name, Justice Mukul Mudgal, who headed the committee constituted to draft the Sports Development Bill 2013, said today.
Justice Mudgal said that all the sports bodies, including the BCCI, will have to come under the RTI once the Bill is passed by the Parliament.
"RTI will apply to all sports bodies and even cricket will come under it. Apart from a few exemptions like one cannot raise questions regarding why a particular player/coach is selected over another, or the contents of a player's contract, medical health and fitness etc, the public is authorised to raise questions," said Justice Mudgal at a media interaction to discuss the contents of the draft Bill.
The working group also includes eminent sportspersons like Olympic gold medal-winning shooter Abhinav Bindra and former India hockey skipper Viren Rasquinha, sports administrators and legal experts.
"If the BCCI refuses to come under the ambit of the RTI then they cannot send the national team under the tag 'India'," said sports expert Boria Mazumdar during the interaction.
Important provisions in the draft Bill include setting up of an Appellate Sports Tribunal and a Sports Election Commission, barring of charge-sheeted persons under the Criminal Procedure Code (section 228) from contesting elections.
The draft Bill also provides for the constitution of an Athletes Commission and NOC/NSFs functioning as a public authority under the RTI and submission of report to the Parliament; setting up of an Ethics Commission which will enforce a Code of Ethics in accordance with the International Olympic Committee's code and principles, enshrined in the Constitution of India.
"The draft Bill talks about setting up of an Athletes Commission with the provision that the athletes be included in the decision making process of executive body. The total strength of the athletes in the executive body shall not be less than 25 per cent of the voting rights," said Bindra.
Mudgal and Boria insisted that with an intention of rooting out corruption from sports, a clause has been included in the draft Bill wherein anybody who has been charge-sheeted will not be able contest in the elections of a NSF.
"Any tainted person will not be allowed to be a part of any NSF," said Boria.
According to the draft Bill, the representation of either gender should not be less than 10 per cent of the membership in the General Body.
All cases where the NOC/NSF are parties will, with the leave of the Supreme Court or the High Court as the case may be, be transferred to the Appellate Sports Tribunal.
An Athletes Commission has been proposed to be set up in each NOC/NSF within six months of promulgation of this Act; the Athletes Commission shall also advise the NOC/NSF on development of the sport, training and competition schedules, athletes grievances, selection and technical criteria, logistics and administration support amongst others.
The draft Bill also incorporates the controversial age and tenure guidelines under which all office bearers of the Indian Olympic Association and the NSFs will retire at the age of 70. A person who has served as an officer bearer on the executive body of a NSF/NOC for two consecutive terms will be ineligible to stand for election.
The Sports Election Commission has been proposed in the Bill to conduct free and fair elections to the National Olympic Committee, National Sport Federations and the Athletes Commission.
"A copy of the draft has been sent to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) for its comments, following an agreement between Indian officials and the IOC in their May 15 meeting in Lausanne. After that we would introduce it to the cabinet and I am confident of this bill getting a clearance," said Sports Secretary P K Deb.
It's time BCCI is brought under RTI ambit: Bishen Singh Bedi
New Delhi: "Deeply hurt" by Supreme Court's intervention in deciding the fate of BCCI president-in-exile N Srinivasan, former India captain Bishen Singh Bedi on Thursday said it is time the "cricket board is brought under the RTI ambit".
In a setback to Srinivasan, the Apex Court today barred him from contesting any BCCI election on grounds of conflict of interest but Bedi believes that the verdict is not a moment to rejoice but a day of sadness for Indian cricket.
"It's not a moment to rejoice. There is nothing to be happy about the judgment, rather I am deeply saddened by the turn of events. Not for anybody but for the game that I have loved and lived all through. This is the tragedy of Indian cricket that Supreme Court had to intervene to settle a cricket dispute. And you don't feel happy about any tragedy," the legendary spinner told PTI.
"I believe that this is the right time to bring BCCI under the RTI (Right to Information Act) ambit. The national as well as all the state units should fall under RTI. What's happening in Haryana, Jammu and Kashmir, Delhi, Punjab is an outcome of the independent functioning of the cricket board," he added.
CHENNAI: Ever since the time all national sports federations were brought under the purview of the Right to Information Act—as per the National Sports Development Bill—there has been a raging debate as to whether the Board of Control for Cricket in India, the world’s richest cricketing body, too should be included within its radar.
The Board members adamantly insisted that it needn’t be as it was registered as an autonomous body under the Societies Act, the RTI-enthusiasts demanded the implementation of it as cricket was a public sport and the cricketers are representing the country. In fact it was Justice Mukul Mudgal—also part of the apex-court’s probe panel that looked into the IPL spot-fixing and betting scandal, who had voiced the need to bring the BCCI into the RTI ambit in his capacity as the chairman of the committee that had drafted the Sports Development Bill.
The pro-RTI campaigners now have some hope as the SC bench on Thursday observed that though the BCCI was a private body, it performed a public function and was therefore amenable to judicial law and review. But noted lawyer Rahul Mehra, whose Public Interest Litigation on bringing the Board under RTI was stayed by Chennai Supreme Court. “The SC has just observed that the law of the land is applicable to the BCCI, that they are accountable to the public. That doesn’t automatically mean that it comes under the RTI. An observation is not enough to bring the BCCI under RTI,” he said.Without political support, it will be difficult to make the RTI applicable to the BCCI. “It’s not very hard. But it requires political will and consensus. And at the moment it doesn’t seem like happening, as the Board has influential members cutting across parties. It had the support of UPA, and now it has the support of NDA. And when it comes to cricket, even they seem to bury their political differences,” he explained.
A senior board official, meanwhile, specified that the government should not try to hijack the game’s administration by bringing it under the RTI.
“I agree that the BCCI is accountable to the public. And we are accountable to the public. But the government intervening in its administration is not exactly a thing to welcome. You know that the BCCI is the most professionally-run sports body in the country. Government’s intervention might ruin the game,” he said.
NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Thursday said as the Board for Control of Cricket in India (BCCI) enjoys a unique monopoly over the passionately followed game of cricket with the government's tacit understanding, it is discharging public functions and hence comes under the ambit of strict standards of judicial scrutiny.
Busting the myth that BCCI is a private body registered as a society under the Tamil Nadu Societies Registration Act, a bench of Justices T S Thakur and F M I Kalifulla just stopped short of declaring BCCI a government body but said it is answerable to the writ jurisdiction of the high courts.
"The functions of the Board are clearly public functions, which till such time the State (government) intervenes to take over the same, remain in the nature of public functions, no matter discharged by a society registered under the Registration of Societies Act," said Justice Thakur writing the judgment for the bench.
Giving a long narrative of the all pervasive control BCCI held over the game of cricket including selection of the national team, the bench said: "All these activities are undertaken with the tacit concurrence of the state government and the government of India which are not only fully aware but supportive of the activities of the Board. The state has not chosen to bring any law or taken any other step that would either deprive or dilute the Board's monopoly in the field of cricket."
"Those distinguishing themselves in the international arena are conferred highest civilian awards like Bharat Ratna, Padma Vibhushan, Padma Bhushan and Padma Shri apart from sporting awards instituted by the government. Such is the passion for this game in this country that cricketers are seen as icons by youngsters, middle-aged and the old alike," the bench said.
"Any organization or entity that has such pervasive control over the game and its affairs and such powers as can make dreams end up in smoke or come true cannot be said to be undertaking any private activity," the court said.
"Suffice it to say that if the government not only allows an autonomous/private body to discharge functions which it could in law takeover or regulate but even lends its assistance to such a non-government body to undertake such functions which by their very nature are public functions, it cannot be said that the functions are not public functions or that the entity discharging the same is not answerable on the standards generally applicable to judicial review of state action," it said.
I beg to differ with learned experts who have posted above that BCCI is not under RTI Act 2005.
I beg to seek your attention to bring some urgentpronouncements of Hon’ble Supreme Court on 22nd January 2015 in casenumber Civil Appeal number 4235 & 4236 of 2014 titled BCCI Vs CricketAssociation of Bihar & Others which is very relevant to present case. I draw the your attention to para 30),69) & 96) of the judgment which I reproduce below, QUOTE “QUOTE “30. The majority view thus favours the viewthat BCCI is amenable to the writ jurisdiction of the High Court underArticle 226 even when it is not ‘State’ within the meaning of Article 12.
The rationale underlying that view if we may say withutmost respect lies in the “nature of duties and functions” which the BCCIperforms. It is common ground that the respondent-Board has a complete swayover the game of cricket in this country.
It regulates and controls the game to the exclusion ofall others. It formulates rules, regulations norms and standardscovering all aspect of the game. It enjoysthe power of choosing the members of the national team and the umpires. It exercises the power ofdisqualifying players which may at times put an end to the sporting career of aperson. It spends crores of rupees on building and maintaining infrastructure likestadia, running of cricket academies and Supporting StateAssociations. It frames pension schemes and incurs expenditure on coaches, trainersetc. It sells broadcast and telecast rights and collects admission fee tovenues where the matches are played. All these activities are undertaken withthe tacit concurrence of the State Government and the Government of India whoare not only fully aware butsupportive of the activities of the Board. The State has not chosen to bring any law or taken any other step thatwould either deprive or dilute the Board’s monopoly in the field of cricket. Onthe contrary, the Government of India have allowed the Board to selectthe national team which is then recognized by all concerned and applaudedby the entire nation including at times by the highest of thedignitaries when they win tournaments and bring laurels home. Thosedistinguishing themselves in the international arena are conferred highest civilianawards like the Bharat Ratna, Padma Vibhushan, Padma Bhushan and Padma Shriapart from sporting awards instituted by the Government. Such is the passion for this game in thiscountry that cricketers are seen as icons by youngsters, middle aged and the old alike. Any organization or entity that has such pervasive control over the game and its affairs and such powersas can make dreams end up in smoke or come true cannot be said to beundertaking any private activity. The functions of the Board are clearly publicfunctions, which, till such time the State intervenes to takeover the same,remain in the nature of public functions, no matter discharged by a societyregistered under the Registration of Societies Act. Suffice it to say that if the Government not only allows an autonomous/private body to dischargefunctions which it could in law takeover or regulate but even lends itsassistance to such a non-government body to undertake such functions whichby their very nature are public functions, it cannot be said that thefunctions are not public functions or that the entity discharging thesame is not answerable on the standardsgenerally applicable to judicial review of State action. Our answer to question No.1, therefore, is in the negative,qua, the first part and affirmative qua the second. BCCI may not be State under Article 12 of the Constitution but is certainly amenable to writjurisdiction under Article 226 of the Constitution of India.” …………………………………… 69. The High Court of Bombay has, as seen earlier,repelled the challenge and upheld the amendment in question by its judgmentand order impugned in Civil Appeal arising out of SLP (Civil) No.34228 of2014. We have, while dealing with question No.1 above, held that BCCI isamenable to writ jurisdiction under Article 226 of the Constitution asit discharges “Public Functions”. Thenatural corollary flowing from that finding is that all actions which BCCI takes while discharging such public functionsare open to scrutiny by the Courts in exercise of their powersunder Article 226 of the Constitution. It also implies that such actions shallwhen under scrutiny be judged by the standards and on principles that governsimilar actions when taken by the State or its instrumentalities. Theapproach which a Court exercising powers of judicial review of administrative actionadopts will remain the same irrespective of whether the actionunder review is taken by the State or its instrumentality or by any nonstatutory non government organisation like the BCCI in the case at hand. It follows that Rule 6.2.4 will be subject to the same tests and standards as wouldapply to any similar provision emanating from a statute or the general executivepower of the State. 96. BCCI is a very important institution thatdischarges important public functions. Demands of institutional integrity are,therefore, heavy and need to be met suitably in larger public interest. Individuals are birds of passage while institutions are forever. The expectations of themillions of cricket lovers in particular and public at large in general,have lowered considerably the threshold oftolerance for any mischief, wrong doing or corrupt practices which ought to be weeded out of the system. Conflict ofinterest is one area which appears to have led to the current confusion andserious misgivings in the public mind as to the manner in which BCCI ismanaging its affairs.” UNQUOTE
The undersigned draws the your attentionto the judgment of Hon’ble Delhi High Court in the case of Krishak BhartiCooperatives Ltd Vs Ramesh Chand Bawa (W P ( C ) 6129/2007 & W P (C)7770/2008) at para 19 QUOTE……………………………
19. In the context of the RTI Act it may well be that a bodywhich is neither a “state” for the purposes of Article 12 nor a body discharging public functions for the purpose ofArticle 226 of the Constitution might still be a “public authority‟ withinthe meaning of Section 2 (h) (d) (i) of the RTI Act. To state it differently,while a “body‟ which is either a “state‟ for the purposes of Article 12 or a“body‟ discharging public functions for the purpose of Article 226 is likely toanswer the description of “public authority‟ in terms of Section 2 (h) (d) (i) ofthe RTI Act, the mere fact that such body is neither, will not take it out ofthe definition of “public authority‟ under Section 2 (h) (d) (i) ofthe RTI Act” UNQUOTE.
That it has been proved beyond doubt that as per Hon’ble Supreme Court above decisions that BCCI and its members who constituteit namely State Cricket Associations are controlling the sportof Cricket of India domestically & internationally and as such areperforming the functions of the state.
That it is proved beyond doubt that BCCI & its members who constitute it namely State Cricket Associations areamenable to writs under Section 226 of the constitution of India and anybodywhich is amenable to writs is a public authority under RTI Act 2005 as ruled byHon’ble Bench of Delhi High Court (Supra)
That it is proved beyond doubt that BCCI & its members who constitute it namely State Cricket Associations aresubstantially financed directly or indirectly by the appropriate government/s.
That the above ingredients are enough to qualify BCCI aspublic authority under RTI Act 2005
Thanks for your time esteemed members.
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