The Central Information Commission, on October 1 pronounced the judgement that the BCCI comes under the jurisdiction of the RTI Act. As a result of the ruling, the board is now “answerable to the people of the country”.
The commission studied the law, orders of the Supreme Court, the Law Commission of India report, Central Public Information Officer in the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports’ guidelines to rule that the status and nature of the board comes under Section 2(h) of the RTI Act. Section 2(h) of the Act states the norms that serve as a basis to declare a body as a public authority under the RTI Act.
In addition to it, Information Commissioner Sridhar Acharyulu noted in the order, “The SC has also reaffirmed that the BCCI is the ‘approved’ national-level body holding virtually monopoly rights to organize cricketing events in the country”.
He ruled that the BCCI should be registered as an NSF (national sports federation) under the jurisdiction of RTI Act. The RTI Act should include the board alongside its associations, if they satisfy the guidelines applicable to BCCI as examined in the Law Commission report.
The commissioner instructed the president, secretary and Committee of Administrators (CoA) to nominate officers as central public information officers, central assistant public information officers and first appellate authorities as stated by the law.
Acharyulu also asked the BCCI to implement online and offline systems in order to collect applications for information relating to the RTI Act.
The commissioner directed the BCCI to hand over point-wise information solicited by the petitioner inside 10 days from the date of the order issued.
He added that the BCCI should have been held liable under all circumstances for any breaches of “basic human rights of the stakeholders”.
He also noted that as of now, other than the option of submitting a writ petition in the constitutional courts, there were no systems in place to question such breaches.
By taking into consideration the Law Commission report, he then observed it not only indicated the economic characteristics of the BCCI acting as a sports federation of cricket, but is also a pointer about the power of the body to impact human rights of players.
The matter had cropped up before the commissioner as the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports did not provide an adequate response to an RTI applicant, Geeta Rani.
The applicant had solicited to know the guidelines under which the BCCI was acting as a representative of the national team and in relation to selecting players to represent India.
Via the RTI application, she also questioned in relation to whether the players selected by the BCCI were representing India or for the board.
Further, the applicant had asked how a private body can represent the country in international competitions and how the government is gaining from handing over rights and control to the BCCI to represent the country internationally.
The ministry, on its part, replied by saying it doesn’t have the required information and the petition could not be transferred to the BCCI as the cricket board isn’t a public authority under the gambit of the RTI Act.>