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BCCI should be brought under RTI Act, says Law Commission chairman

The Law Commission is in the process of finalising its report on the subject of bringing the Board of Control for Cricket in India under the RTI Act

cricket Updated: Jan 10, 2018 20:15 IST
Jatin Gandhi
Jatin Gandhi
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Board of Control for Cricket in India,Right to Information,RTI Act
Since the BCCI receives exemptions and grants from public funds, it should be brought under the RTI Act, the Law Commission has argued.(Reuters)

The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) should be brought under the ambit of the Right to Information (RTI) Act – which makes seeking information on the functioning of public bodies a citizen’s right by law – because it performs a public function and receives exemptions and grants from public funds, Law Commission Chairman Justice BS Chauhan said in an interview on Wednesday.

“BCCI should be under the RTI Act,” Justice Chauhan said. “They get a lot of government grants in terms of tax exemptions and land at concessional costs from the public exchequer.”

“I don’t want to comment on the issue,” said BCCI’s acting president C.K. Khanna.

The Law Commission is in the process of finalising its report on the subject. The Supreme Court had, in July 2016, made a reference to the commission – which advises the government and the courts on legal matters – asking it to examine whether the RTI Act that applies to government undertakings can also apply to BCCI.

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“We have circulated a draft among our members and a meeting on the subject will take place later this month. A final review of the matter is pending,” Justice Chauhan said.

The commission’s draft which has also been sent to the union law secretary and the secretary, legislative affairs, who are ex-officio members of the LCI, states that the BCCI received tax exemptions amounting to Rs 2,100 crore from 1997 to 2007.

“Owing to its monopolistic character coupled with the public nature of the functions it (BCCI) performs and the substantial financing it has received over the years from appropriate governments, in the form of tax exemptions, land grants et al, it can, within the existing legal framework itself, be termed as a ‘public authority’ and be brought within the purview of the RTI Act,” the draft has said.

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“By virtue of being the organisers of competitive cricket, BCCI is de facto legislating on sport-related activities,” it adds on the public function that the organisation performs, underlining the need for it to be under the information act.

Experts have in the past made similar recommendations. Former Chief Justice of India RM Lodha who headed the committee to suggest reforms in the BCCI and Justice Mukul Mudgal who investigated spot-fixing allegations in the Indian Premier League had both recommended that RTI apply to the BCCI’s functioning.

“Eventually it is for Parliament to decide but only public functions of the BCCI should be under the RTI. Other things pertaining to players’ selection and the sport should be kept out because that will affect the game of cricket,” Justice Mudgal said.

Former CJI Lodha said the commission’s proposed move will “help lawmakers to move in the direction of bring BCCI and its functioning under the RTI regime.”

“It has to be done by amending the RTI Act,” he said.

First Published: Jan 10, 2018 19:52 IST