It is important that we first under the meaning of the term “Public Authority” as given under the Right To Information Act, 2005 (RTI). Section 2(h) of RTI Act 2005 says that “public authority” means any authority or body or institution of self-government established or constituted,—
(a) by or under the Constitution;
(b) by any other law made by Parliament;
(c) by any other law made by the State Legislature;
(d) by notification issued or order made by the appropriate Government, and includes any—
- body owned, controlled, or substantially financed;
- non-Government Organisation substantially financed, directly or indirectly by funds provided by the appropriate Government;
While answering all the above questions we will refer to the various recommendations of the Law Commission Report, Supreme Court Judgment on RTI, and Order of CIC (Central Information Commission).
Judgment/Recommendations on BCCI:-
- 275th Law Commission Report: The Law Commission of India recommended BCCI as a Public authority based on following:- a) Usage of national tricolors on the uniform of the Indian cricket team and the Ashok Chakra on their helmets, b) BCCI nominates cricketers for the Arjuna Awards, c) Though Parliament proposed a Bill, it did not go further to make sports law on national sports federations such as BCCI.
- Supreme Court: In Thalappalam Service Cooperative Bank Ltd & others vs State of Kerala & Others, the Hon’ble Supreme Court said that the Burden to show that a body is owned, controlled, or substantially financed or that an NGO is substantially financed directly or indirectly by the funds provided by the appropriate government is on the applicant who seeks information or the appropriate Government and can be examined by the State Information Commission or the Central Information Commission as the case may be when the question comes up for consideration. Also, the Supreme Court in 2016 said that it wants all state cricket associations to fall in line with the suggestions made by the Justice RM Lodha-led panel on structural reforms of BCCI. The committee recommended including BCCI under the RTI Act. Further, the Supreme Court in BCCI vs. Cricket Association of Bihar & Others said that BCCI does discharge several important public functions which make it amenable to writ jurisdiction of the High Court under 226 of the Constitution even when it is not “state” within the meaning of Article 12.
- CIC (Central Information Commission): The Central Information Commissioner referred to what the Apex Court and other High Courts have said many a time that the BCCI performs a public function and it is straight away related to public activity because of which the BCCI should be accountable to public in general and in public interest.
- The Commission said that in the public interest, in the interest of fair Cricket, and for a fair process of selection of Indian Cricket team members, the BCCI should be made transparent, accountable and answerable under the Right to Information Act, 2005.
There still exists doubt as to whether BCCI is a public authority under the Right To Information Act, 2005 or not, although based on the above studies and opinions/ recommendations it is clear that BCCI is a public authority and shall come under the ambit of the Right To Information Act 2005. So there are still questions that remain unanswered (although we can answer them based on the recommendation of the Law Commission Report & SC Judgment) these questions are as follows:
Ques.1: Whether the players selected by BCCI (Board of Control of Cricket in India) are playing for India or BCCI?
Ques.2: How can BCCI (a Pvt. Association) represent our country in the National/ International cricket tournament?
Ques.3: What is the benefit of the Indian Govt. to give rights/ authority to BCCI to represent our country in Domestic and International tournaments etc?