Polo club not answerable under RTI: Army to CIC

  • Bhartesh Singh Thakur, Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
  • Updated: Oct 28, 2014 13:44 IST

Stonewalling details sought under the Right To Information (RTI) Act, the army submitted before the chief information commission (CIC), New Delhi, that the Army Polo and Riding Club (APRC) is not a public authority.

This is despite the fact that APRC, which is situated inside the premises of B squadron of 61 cavalry in Delhi Cantonment, is run by serving officers.

When Chandigarh-based advocate Major Guneet Chaudhary (retd) had sought information about the club, the CIC had asked the Army to clarify on two issues —government assistance in running activities of the club and the present location of the club along with names of its president and vice-president.

However, the army held that the APRC is not a public authority and hence does fall within the ambit of RTI Act. “The club is a self-financed private body providing recreational facilities. It is not in receipt of any government/public funding. The club generates its funds from subscriptions which are utilised for promotion of equestrian activities such as maintenance of horses, salaries of grooms, office staff etc.,” said the reply.

But, it admitted that the club is located within B squadron 61 cavalry “with an aim to provide easy accessibility to defence officers and their dependants as a number of them stay within Delhi Cantonment”.

‘Ex-officio capacity’

The reply also said that the club president is quartermaster general, ministry of defence (MoD), and vice-president is additional director general, Integrated Headquarters, MoD. It mentioned that they held the posts only in ex-officio capacity and did not get any remuneration for their services.

“...there is no direct control of Integrated Headquarters, MoD (Army), or the central government in the functioning of the club,” says the reply.

Major Chaudhary sought information about the club’s resources in January 2013, saying that it was a public body and should therefore give out information asked under the RTI Act.

“It is being run from a defence institution. Serving officers are running it. Earlier, chief of army staff used to be the club president. It is definitely a public body and they must give information under the RTI Act.”

The matter is pending in appeal and the CIC is yet to give a verdict on it.

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