Indian Sports Ministry Says RTI Covers Cricket Board

22 December 2011

The Indian Sports Ministry has asserted that the right to information law covers Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), according to a Times of India report.

The ministry submitted a seven-page statement Dec. 16 to the Central Information Commission, saying that the cricket board receives “substantial indirect funding” from the government in the form of “concessions in income tax, customs duty” and land at discount rates for stadiums.

The ministry in August failed in an effort to gain Cabinet support for a bill to have sports federations placed under the RTI Act.  (See previous FreedomInfo.org report.)

Of the latest attempt, the paper further reported:

The ministry also argued that BCCI performed functions akin to state and ‘public duties’ by selecting national teams and representing India in international events.

Citing the Emblems and Names (Prevention of Improper Use) Act, the ministry said, “Since the name Board of Control for Cricket in India suggests patronage of the government, the BCCI may have to drop the name ‘India’ from its name in case they continue to act as ‘private body’.”

It added, “In view of the above, the present position of the government of India in this regard is that there exists just and reasonable grounds for BCCI to be declared as a ‘public authority’ under the Right to Information Act, 2005.”

Information commissioner M L Sharma, while hearing plea of activists Subhash Agrawal and Alok Varshney to bring BCCI under the ambit of the RTI Act, had directed the ministry to submit a written statement indicating if BCCI was a public authority.

According to section 2(h) of the RTI Act, even a non-government organisation comes under the ambit of the transparency law if it is substantially financed, “directly or indirectly” by funds provided by the appropriate government.

The ministry in August failed in an effort to gain Cabinet support for a bill to have sports regulators placed under the RTI Act.  (See previous FreedomInfo.org report.)

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