BCCI should come under RTI Act, recommends Law Commission

NEW DELHI: The Law Commission of India on Wednesday recommended the central government to include the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) along with its constituent member cricketing associations under the Right to Information (RTI) Act.
The report, submitted to the Law Ministry, states that BCCI ought to be classified as ‘state’ within the meaning of Article 12 of the Constitution.
“When all other national sport federations are covered under RTI Act, why not BCCI,” Law Commission said.
Law Commission further added that BCCI exercises state like powers affecting the fundamental rights of the stakeholders, guaranteed under Part III of the Constitution.
The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), the world’s richest cricket body, operates as a private entity under the Tamil Nadu Societies Registration Act.
If the government accepts the commission’s recommendations and classifies BCCI as a public body or an organisation under the RTI Act, anyone can file PILs in the SC or HCs questioning the selection of players representing India, states and zones. PILs could also question the agreements signed by BCCI with other cricket playing nations and the International Cricket Council.
In its July 2016 judgment, the SC had asked the commission to examine the legal framework to bring BCCI under the RTI Act.
“An analysis of the functioning of BCCI also shows that the government does exercise control over its activities and functioning.
“… BCCI, falling in line with the foreign policy of India, did not recognise a player from South Africa due to their practice of apartheid; and that the cricket matches between India and Pakistan in view of tense international relations were made subject to government approval.
The foregoing positions BCCI as a ‘limb of the state’,” the law panel report said.
It said though the BCCI is continued to be regarded as a “private body”, owing to its “monopolistic character coupled with the public nature of its functions, it can still be termed as a ‘public authority’ and be brought within the purview of the RTI Act.
The report pointed out that BCCI has received “substantial financing” from appropriate governments in the form of tax exemptions and land grants.
The BCCI has enjoyed tax exemptions of “thousands of crores”, the report said. “To be precise, between 1997-2007, the total tax exemption amounted to Rs twenty-one billion six hundred eighty-three million two hundred thirty-seven thousand four hundred eighty-nine. It may also be noted here that from 2007-2008 onwards, the registration of BCCI under section 12A of the Income Tax Act, 1961, as a charitable trust, was withdrawn,” it noted.
To support its case further, the law panel said the uniform Indian team wears contains the national colours and their helmets display the Ashok Chakra.
“BCCI, though not a national sports federation, nominates cricketers for the Arjuna Awards. Parliament and state legislatures chose not to enact a legislation to govern the sport of cricket reflecting tacit recognition on the issue afforded to BCCI,” it said.
The panel is of the view that the BCCI virtually acts as a national sports federation.