SC could have brought BCCI under RTI Act

By Sant Kumar Sharma 

Jammu, July 19:

Scandals and defalcation of money had always made news whenever something related to cricket administration comes for discussion. Since cricket is undoubtedly the richest sports in India, unholy games are not a stranger for its administration. Powerful politicians, cutting across party lines, show a rare bonhomie when they discuss cricket.

Betting scandals, match fixing and other irregularities had all hit the image of cricket. As it is played on the field, and perhaps even more seriously in board rooms of some business houses. Many top business houses, including perhaps one of the most visible of them, Reliance, is directly involved in it.

Recently, the Supreme Court intervention in affairs of Board for Control of Cricket in India (BCCI) became imperative. And the Supreme Court directed BCCI to implement RM Lodha committee report which was set up by the apex court itself. Perhaps, the Apex Court could have taken a final call to bring BCCI under purview of RTI Act. This is an issue which has been left for the Central government or the Law Commission to take a decision on.

It is heartening and welcome that the Union Sports Minister, Mr Vijay Kumar Goel, has expressed his willingness for ensuring transparency in working of sports’ bodies. However, during earlier UPA regime/s, both in UPA I and UPA II, the views of Sports Ministers hardly mattered. On the aspect of bringing BCCI under purview of RTI Act. It was the other senior Union Ministers having directly related with BCCI which always prevailed.

To draw an analogy, Hockey India is under purview of RTI Act, but BCCI is not. Why other sports bodies, including super-rich BCCI and its affiliated state cricket associations, are not under the RTI Act? Super rich BCCI obtained ex party stay order from Madras High Court even on hearing of Central Information Commission (CIC), when a full Bench of CIC was hearing the matter.

We can argue that the BCCI and its affiliates be brought under the ambit of RTI because these bodies have been allotted land at hugely concessional rates. This also tells us clearly that BCCI and its affiliates have built up their assets at the cost of the exchequer.

The Union Sports Minister, Mr Goel can ensure that the Central government brings transparency in sports-bodies. He can ensure that all sports bodies, including BCCI and its affiliates, are under the purview of RTI Act. However, to prevent the misuse of the RTI Act, the Central government should make it compulsory to file identity-proof of petitioner along with RTI petitions. Apart from making basic RTI fees Rs 50 uniformly, inclusive of cost of first 20 copied pages.