BCCI should be answerable, accountable

BCCI should be answerable, accountable

The legal eagles have doubted whether the government has power to declare that the BCCI is a public authority under the RTI Act The Supreme Court in...

The legal eagles have doubted whether the government has power to declare that the BCCI is a public authority under the RTI Act. The Supreme Court in Thalappalam Service Cooperative Bank Ltd & others Vs. State of Kerala & others, considered this aspect and held as under:

“41. Powers have been conferred on the Central Information Commissioner or the State Information Commissioner under Section 18 of the Act to inquire into any complaint received from any person and the reason for the refusal to access to any information requested from a body owned, controlled or substantially financed, or a non-government organisation substantially financed directly or indirectly by the funds provided by the appropriate government.

Section 19 of the Act provides for an appeal against the decision of the Central Information Officer or the State Information Officer to such officer who is senior in rank to the Central Information Officer or the State Information Officer, as the case may be, in each public authority. Therefore, there is inbuilt mechanism in the Act itself to examine whether a body is owned, controlled or substantially financed or an NGO is substantially financed, directly or indirectly, by funds provided by the appropriate authority.”

In exercise of this power, the Commission considering the issue raised in second appeal as complaint against the BCCI on a substantial issue that BCCI should be brought under the purview of RTI Act as ‘public authority’ and inquired into the facts and circumstances, law, orders of Supreme Court, the detailed report of Law Commission of India, the submissions of CPIO of Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports and finally held that the status, nature and functional characteristics of BCCI fulfill required conditions of Section 2(h) of the RTI Act.

Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports and Ministry of Law appear to have ignored the Supreme Court’s emphatic decision and the power of Information Commission to decide this aspect. The SC has also reaffirmed that the BCCI is the ‘approved’ national level body holding virtually monopoly rights to organise cricketing events in the country.

The BCCI should have been held accountable under all circumstances, for any violations of basic human rights of the stakeholders. As on today, there is no mechanism to question such violations, except filing a general writ petition in Constitutional courts. The BCCI should be listed as an NSF covered under the RTI Act. The RTI Act should be made applicable to BCCI along with its entire constituent member cricketing associations, provided they fulfil the criteria applicable to BCCI, as discussed in the Law Commission’s report.

The LCI stated that non-consideration of the role played by the BCCI as monopolistic in regulation of the game of cricket has resulted in the board "flying under the radar of public scrutiny, encouraged an environment of opacity and non-accountability". In the absence of effective self regulation and non-applicability of public law to scrutinise and review the functioning of the sports body, the necessity of public scrutiny arose and only way for that is through RTI Act.

Thus CIC held the BCCI as the public authority under the RTI Act and directed the President, Secretary and Committee of Administrators to designate deserving officers as Central Public Information Officers, Central Assistant Public Information Officers and First Appellate Authorities and put in place a system of online and offline mechanisms to receive the applications for information under the RTI Act to respond them as early as possible but not later than 30 days from the date of application for information, immediately within 15 days. It also directs the President and Secretary and Committee of Administrators to prepare the data for disclosing as per Section 4(1)(b) seventeen categories information about the BCCI. Section 4(1) of RTI Act says:

4. Every public authority shall—
(b)publish within one hundred and twenty days from the enactment of this Act,—
(i) the particulars of its organisation, functions and duties;
(ii) the powers and duties of its officers and employees;
(iii)the procedure followed in the decision making process, including channels of supervision and accountability;
(iv)the norms set by it for the discharge of its functions;
(v)the rules, regulations, instructions, manuals and records, held by it or under its control or used by its employees for discharging its functions;
(vi)a statement of the categories of documents that are held by it or under its control;
(vii) the particulars of any arrangement that exists for consultation with, or representation by, the members of the public in relation to the formulation of its policy or implementation thereof;
(viii)a statement of the boards, councils, committees and other bodies consisting of two or more persons constituted as its part or for the purpose of its advice, and as to whether meetings of those boards, councils, committees and other bodies are open to the public, or the minutes of such meetings are accessible for public;
(ix)a directory of its officers and employees;
(x)the monthly remuneration received by each of its officers and employees, including the system of compensation as provided in its regulations;
(xi) the budget allocated to each of its agency, indicating the particulars of all plans, proposed expenditures and reports on disbursements made;
(xii) the manner of execution of subsidy programmes, including the amounts allocated and the details of beneficiaries of such programmes;
(xiii)particulars of recipients of concessions, permits or authorisations granted by it;
(xiv)details in respect of the information, available to or held by it, reduced in an electronic form;
(xv) the particulars of facilities available to citizens for obtaining information, including the working hours of a library or reading room, if maintained for public use;
(xvi) the names, designations and other particulars of the Public Information Officers;
(xvii)such other information as may be prescribed and thereafter update these publications every year;
(c) publish all relevant facts while formulating important policies or announcing the decisions which affect public;
(d) provide reasons for its administrative or quasi-judicial decisions to affected persons.

It shall be a constant endeavour of every public authority to take steps in accordance with the requirements of clause (b) of sub-section (1) to provide as much information suo motu to the public at regular intervals through various means of communications, including internet, so that the public have minimum resort to the use of this Act to obtain information.

The Commission also directed the BCCI to provide point-wise information sought by the appellant in this case, within 10 days and the public authority Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports to take necessary steps to ensure implementation of this Order and updating of the information by BCCI at regular intervals.

(Based on decision of CIC dated October 1, 2018)

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