Punjab Cricket Association (PCA) is a public authority under the Right to Information (RTI) Act, the State Information Commission (SIC) ruled here on Wednesday, thus making it liable to scrutiny under the transparency law.
“We are of the unanimous opinion [that] PCA would have struggled had it not been in possession of the land in Mohali which has been leased on a nominal amount (Rs 100 per acre per year) coupled with a substantial grant of the government to convert it into a cricket stadium,” ruled the full bench of the commission on a petition by a non-government organisation (NGO) from Ludhiana.
The SIC observed that documents show the PCA received grants amounting to Rs 14 crore, approximately, from various bodies such as the Punjab Housing Development Board, Punjab Urban Development Authority and the state sports council for building its famed international stadium and a clubhouse on the premises.
The case was filed in 2007 by Anil Kashyap, president of the NGO Cricketers Welfare Association from Ludhiana.
The commission had passed a similar order in 2008, but that was challenged by the PCA in the Punjab and Haryana high court.
A single-judge bench of the HC dismissed the PCA’s contention of not being a public body. The association challenged that order before a larger bench of the high court.
In 2013, the Supreme Court declared a cooperative bank in Kerala as ‘public authority’ on similar counts, the PCA case was referred back to the information commission by the HC that set aside the earlier orders.
Now, the matter was heard by the full SIC bench — chief information commissioner SS Channy, and commissioners Yashvir Mahajan, AS Chanduraian, RS Nagi and Chander Parkash — which found that though the PCA has become a self-sustaining body with huge funds at its disposal, none of that would have been possible had it not received substantial grants from various government bodies at the time of building the infrastructure.
Moreover, the land lease at a nominal yearly rent of Rs 100 per acre aids the association in carrying out its activities. PCA has about 14 acres in Mohali. The order said it’s obvious the infrastructure provided by the state of Punjab enabled the PCA to enjoy such a robust financial health.
When contacted for a reaction, MP Pandove, PCA secretary general, said, “We will see the judgment and consult our legal team before chalking out the next course of action.”
AID TO PCA
Reason why Punjab Cricket Assn is ‘public authority’
Land leased at Rs 100 per acre per year
Punjab Housing Development Board: Rs 5 crore
Punjab Urban Planning and Development Authority: Rs 5.1 crore
Small Savings fund Rs 77 lakh
Punjab State Sports Council Rs 30 lakh
National Games fund Rs 15 lakh
State-owned industries: Rs 82.7 lakh