Madras High Court has stayed the Central Information Commissioner's (CIC) proceedings on declaring the Indian cricket board as a public authority under the RTI Act.
The stay was granted by justice KK Sasidharan while passing interim orders yesterday on a petition by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) challenging the CIC proceedings.
"There shall be an order of interim stay of all proceedings pursuant to the impugned (CIC) order in the mean time," the Judge ruled.
"..in view of the same and taking into account the larger issue raised by the petitioner, issue notice to respondents (CIC and RTI applicant) returnable by August 20," he said.
CIC had sent a notice dated July 10, 2013 to the BCCI directing its representatives to appear for a two-day hearing from today after the Board failed to provide information sought by one Madhu Agarwal of Delhi under the RTI Act.
Agarwal had sought information on the organisations affiliated to the BCCI and its office bearers, facilities provided to each of them by the government and details of payment made to the government in the last five years.
The Commission had also directed the Board to send a written representation containing nine items of information, sought by the applicant.
In his petition challenging the CIC proceedings, BCCI (game development) manager Ratnakar S Shetty said the Board was not a 'public authority' and it did not enjoy any financial support from the government and was not subject to the superintendence of the government.
Citing three earlier judgements by the apex court, in which BCCI was held as an 'autonomous body,' he contended that the impugned proceedings were "totally without jurisdiction," since the Board did not fall within the purview of the Act 22 of 2005.
Observing that the CIC had sent a notice to all 29 of its affiliates to appear at the hearing with the information sought without notice to the Board or its members, he contended that the procedure adopted by the Commission was "wholly illegal."
Referring to the commission's notice, which had apparently said that there were some "complex issues of law" involved in the case, he said, "There is no complex issue of law involved, since the issue is covered by the earlier decisions of CIC."
Holding that the CIC was under the impression that a full bench of three members would be in a position to review/revise earlier orders passed by it, he said, "Section 12 (2) of the Act 22 of 2005 stipulates that the Central Information Commissioner shall consist of a Chief Information Commissioner who shall be assisted by upto 10 Central Information Commissioners."
He also said that the attempt to constitute a full bench of three Information Commissioners including the CIC has been prompted by a "mistaken belief that the full bench cold over rule or differ from two earlier decisions."
"Allocation of two continuous hearing dates itself shows that the CIC has an intention to reopen the issue of applicability of Act 22 of 2005 to the Board notwithstanding the decisions already rendered earlier," Shetty contended.
He prayed the court to stay all proceedings pursuant to the impugned notice issued by the CIC to the Board dated July 10, 2013 and further sought to quash the same.