The Delhi High Court on Thursday ruled that the Commonwealth Games Organising Committee (CGOC) and the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) fall under the ambit of the Right to Information (RTI) Act and have to provide information to an applicant.
Dismissing the appeals of the Games Organising Committee and the IOA against the Central Information Commission's (CIC) order to provide information, Justice Ravinder Bhatt ruled that both are public authorities under the RTI Act and have to provide information and cannot keep their accounts private.
"India is in the midst of challenges. The model chosen by the government of ensuring spread of welfare and its benefits, includes functioning through non-government agencies, who are tasked and assisted for this purpose. The crucial role of access to information here cannot be understated," the bench said.
The CGOC had contended that it is an independent and autonomous body and not liable to reveal information under the RTI act.
On the other hand, the central government said that almost the whole budgetary support to the Games project is provided by the government and the committee cannot take the plea that it is an independent body.
"The IOA is a registered society. No doubt, there is no state or public involvement in its establishment, or administration. It does not receive grants as is traditionally understood. It is the national face of the Olympic movement in India. But the funds and the other interests incurred by the association is accountable. It is held that the IOA is a public authority under the meaning of that expression under the Act," the bench ruled.
The dispute erupted after a person filed an RTI application in the sports ministry, seeking to know the details of payments made to actors Aishwarya Rai Bachchan and Saif Ali Khan among others for taking them to the Commonwealth Games closing ceremony in Melbourne in 2006.
The CIC in November 2006 held that the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) was a public authority and directed it to provide the particulars of expenses incurred by it on tours in connection with the Commonwealth Games to the RTI applicant.
The court also asked Sanskriti School to provide information under the RTI act and said, "The school has been substantially financed by the central government, through various departments, and agencies. It is therefore, covered by the regime of the Act."
The school had argued that the school is only funded by the government but is running with the efforts of the wives of civil services officers.