Delhi Soccer Association a Public Authority under RTI
When a person sought information on the status of various complaints of sexual harassment by Delhi girl footballers, addressed to Delhi Soccer...
When a person sought information on the status of various complaints of sexual harassment by Delhi girl footballers, addressed to Delhi Soccer Association office-bearers against Nagender Singh, Vice-President & In-charge, Girls Football, DSA; the details of members of the Inquiry Committee, if formed by DSA under Section-4 of Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace Act, 2013; copy of notices and minutes of meetings of DSA etc., the DSA took a stand that it was not a public authority and, hence, need not answer.
It also contended that the statute barred the disclosure information about sexual harassment, saying, “The appellant herein with some ulterior motives is specifically interested in the information related to complaints of sexual harassment that itself barred to disclose other than to the parties of the Complaint…. & hence exempted from disclosure.”
However the DSA has agreed that: “Moreover, the respondent herein already replied to the said queries as raised under RTI dated 28.03.2017 to the affiliating body of the respondent and Delhi Government through Delhi Women Commission, who were ceased with the Complaints of irregularities and Sexual harassment respectively.”
Kushal Das, General Secretary, All India Football Federation, wrote a letter to Subhash Chopra, President of Delhi Soccer Association, on 11.08.2017 seeking clarification about the complaints and allegations of sexual harassment against Vice-President, DSA & RTI application. He wrote: “… the AIFF had forwarded to the DSA on May 15, 2017, a complaint by the father of a girl player, Ms X against Mr. Nagender Singh as received by the AIFF where it has been alleged that although Mr. Nagender Singh has been removed from his post as a result of the complaints against him, he yet till date continues to travel along with the girls teams due to inaction on part of DSA.
The original complaint of Ms. X of August 2010 was also attached therewith. However, till date we have received no reply whatsoever from the DSA regarding the issue raised in the said letter. It is needless to say that we consider the issues raised therein to be very serious in nature and of paramount importance, which under no circumstances, can be overlooked.…”
The DSA President on 23.08.2017 wrote: “The Managing Committee carefully considered and discussed the matter in detail and accordingly informed the National Women Commission and Delhi Women Commission. As the DSA is not holding players on wages and not acting as their employer, hence formation of any such Committee is beyond the jurisdiction of DSA.”
The appellant stated that the respondent authority is receiving grants from the government, either directly or indirectly. The office of the Delhi Soccer Association is located at Ambedkar Stadium, which is owned by Municipal Authority (which is a public authority). He further alleged that there has been no election conducted since past two years and the President of the Delhi Soccer Association never comes to office in order to discharge his duties. The appellant further stated that he was seeking only the status of sexual harassment case and nothing else.
The officers of the respondent authority refused to share any document to the appellant except auditor’s report and also alleged that the appellant was a habitual misuser of RTI. On 25.10.2017 was submitted a rejoinder, which categorically states: “The reply of DSA dated 13.10.2017 was received by the Appellant at the time of hearing on 13.10.2017 without any enclosures, whereas as per the direction of the Hon’ble CIC the Respondents were to give the response to the undersigned within one week from 25.09.2017 and the replies were to be exchanged.”
Justice Mudgal Committee which was probing the IPL affairs in 2014 highlighted in its report the need for enactment of a special legislation to declare all forms of manipulations of sports, corruption and malpractices a criminal offence. In one such matter between Subhash Chandra Agrawal vs. PIO, Department of Sports, vide file no. CIC/LS/C/2012/000565 decided by this Commission on 16.06.2017, the CPIO in that matter stated that the Ministry of Youth and Sports Affairs represented that draft legislation was revised under the title ‘The Prevention of Sports Fraud Bill, 2015 aiming at prevention of match fixing, spot fixing, manipulation of sports results, disclosure of insider information etc.
The PMO has advised the department to re-examine whether sports frauds needs a standalone Act or it can be dealt with by making necessary provisions in the Indian Penal Code and to seek expert legal opinion on this. Accordingly, the Ministry of Law was consulted on this issue. Beyond this the progress on this aspect is not known.
Kushal Das, AIFF, was constantly writing to Subhash Chopra, DSA, seeking clarifications on various complaints including allegations of sexual harassment against its Vice-President. Even in performing its activities as sole body of football in Delhi, the DSA is expected to act under the control and supervision of the All India Football Federation, a public authority under the Ministry of Sports. Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports also wrote that as authentically mentioned in submissions seeking the due cognizance of the matters that formed basis for agitation under title ‘Save Delhi Football” campaign.
The DSA is using the expression Delhi in their title and there is no other body in Delhi to deal with or conduct football activities in Delhi, which is a monopoly. Whatever importance, finances or authority that DSA draws is only from this exclusive control over the football sport within Delhi.
On one hand, DSA alleges the appellant as RTI misuser, admits it has given information as far as possible and then claims that it is not bound to give any information. It did not deny that it has complete monopoly over the sport in Delhi, but refuses to be answerable under RTI Act. 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 fulfil 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.
The monopoly recognised, sanctioned and continued by the Government of India through Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports, and also through the All India Football Federation, is the indirect but substantial funding by the government.
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. As per Section 19(8) of the RTI Act, the Commission requires the public authority to: a. appoint a PIO as per section 19(8)(a)(ii) of the Act and report back the compliance, within 30 days; b. update their official website with regard to information pertaining to old constitution of DSA, annual reports and the appointment date as well as the tenure of the members of the Executive Committee as per Section 19(8)(a)(iii), the same which should have been complied as per section 4(1)(b) of RTI Act; c. intimate what action was taken on the sexual harassment complaints against DSA, without disclosing the name of the complainants shall be provided, within 15 days; and, d. intimate the appellant that if the allegations are prima facie correct, on what ground the President is continuing in the office?
The Commission directed the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports to inform the appellant and the Commission the action taken on the complaints/representations and allegations mentioned above about DSA, within 15 days. (Based on the decision in CIC/MOYAS/A/2017/157090, D K Bose v. PIO, Delhi Soccer Association on 21.11.2017)