Cricket fans will have the right to access financial and administrative details of the Board of Control for Cricket (BCCI), which earns revenues of around Rs 1,500 crore a year, if the draft of the new sports bill, cleared by the law ministry as legal and constitutionally valid, becomes law.
In its opinion endorsing the revised draft of the National Sports Development Bill, the legal arm of the government has said: "There is no legal/constitutional bar to bringing all national sports bodies, including the BCCI, under the RTI Act." The bill will be placed before the cabinet soon.Currently, the finances of BCCI, the world's richest and most powerful cricket board, are shrouded in secrecy and critics have often alleged mismanagement and worse.
A previous avatar of the sports bill had earlier run into trouble at the cabinet meeting on August 30, when five senior ministers, including agriculture minister and president of the International Cricket Council (ICC), Sharad Pawar, had opposed it.
Following this, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had asked the sports ministry to re-draft the bill and hold consultations with various ministries.
According to lawyer Rahul Mehra, who specialises in sports laws, the law ministry clearance is significant step forward.
"Though the draft bill has to cross many hurdles, it is clear that cricket fans can seek details about the financial dealings of BCCI and the multi-billion dollar IPL," he said.
Pawar and his cabinet colleagues Vilasrao Deshmukh, Farooq Abdullah and CP Joshi, who head the Maharashtra, Jammu and Kashmir and Rajasthan cricket boards, respectively, and Praful Patel, who is president of All India Football Federation are expected to oppose the bill when it comes before the cabinet again.