Will India cricket team singing national anthem, flying tri-colour bring BCCI under RTI? | cricket | Hindustan Times
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Will India cricket team singing national anthem, flying tri-colour bring BCCI under RTI?

Does Indian players singing the national anthem or playing under the national flag make the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) a public body that can be brought under the RTI Act? A top law firm hired by the Law Commission of India is seeking answers to these questions.

cricket Updated: Jan 10, 2017 12:44 IST
Close on the heels of the Supreme Court’s January 2 verdict against the BCCI’s top office-bearers, the first steps in the Law Commission of India’s bid to make the sports body answerable to the public (via RTI) are being taken.
Close on the heels of the Supreme Court’s January 2 verdict against the BCCI’s top office-bearers, the first steps in the Law Commission of India’s bid to make the sports body answerable to the public (via RTI) are being taken.(HT Photo)

Does Indian players singing the national anthem or playing under the national flag make theBoard of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI)a public body that can be brought under the RTI Act?

A top law firm hired by the Law Commission of India is seeking answers to these questions.

Close on the heels of the Supreme Court’s January 2 verdict against the BCCI’s top office-bearers, the first steps in the law commission’s bid to make the sports body answerable to the public are being taken.

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The law firm has sent nine questions to many stakeholders, including ministries, government departments and RTI activists to lay the groundwork for the Law Commission.

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One question reads: “The cricket team selected by BCCI is called the ‘Indian cricket team’, which represents India in international cricket, it recites the Indian national anthem before the match, and it has the ‘Tiranga’ and the Ashok Chakra on its uniform. Does the said nature elevate the status of BCCI to a public body?

SC’s take on BCCI

The Supreme Court has ruled that the activities of the BCCI amounted to that of a public body.

RTI activist, Subhash Agrawal, who is among those who have received the questionnaire, told HT. “I am happy at last the law commission is showing some seriousness on the issue.”

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Another question explores the indirect government benefits the BCCI enjoys. “Does the Government of India exercise control over BCCI as envisaged under Section 2(h) of the RTI Act? As the government of India has repeatedly subsidised the lease of the cricket stadiums, exempted BCCI from paying taxes etc., would this amount to indirect control?”

The most interesting question is about the presence of political heavyweights in the Board.

“History has evidence that important positions on the board have been occupied by leaders and politicians from the governing political parties. Do you think that there is de facto control by government over BCCI?”

In its July 18 verdict ratifying the Justice RM Lodha Committee report on reforms in the BCCI, the Supreme Court had suggested the law commission should examine the feasibility of legalising sports betting and bringing the Board under the RTI Act.

“We’re examining all legal aspects of betting in sports,” Justice (retd) Balbir Singh Chauhan, Chairman, Law Commission of India, told HT recently. “Once we make up our mind and prepare a skeleton in what direction we should proceed and what legal problems may arise, we will write to all the stakeholders.”