The Law Commission of India has said that the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) should be brought under the purview of the Right to Information Act, or RTI. In Report no 275 released on Wednesday, the commission said that the body exercised state-like functions and acted like a national sports federation. To understand why the issue is important, let us take a look at how the Right to Information Act works and where BCCI, considered to be the richest sports body in India, stands on the matter.
The Right To Information Act And BCCI’s Position On The Issue
- The Right to Information Act came into force in 2005. It provides for a timely response to requests from citizens for information related to the functioning and activities of government authorities and departments.
- According to the government, “the basic object of the Right to Information Act is to empower the citizens, promote transparency and accountability in the working of the Government, contain corruption, and make our democracy work for the people in real sense”.
- Over the years, RTI has been used to get information from central and state ministries, departments, and organisations. Under the RTI Act, all that a person needs to do is pay a fee of Rs 10, and send a question through regular or speed post.
- Central government ministries, departments, and undertakings, and some state government also have an online facility for RTI queries. An applicant can also approach a Public Information Officer (PIO) in person.
- The designated authority in a department, ministry or organisation, or the PIO, has to reply within 30 days, failing which an applicant can file an appeal with a higher authority. This appeal, in turn, also has to be acted upon within 30 days.
- This is not the first time that there has been a recommendation to bring the BCCI under the purview of the Right to Information Act. In 2011, then Sports Minister Ajay Maken had recommended bringing the BCCI under the RTI Act but the move faced strong opposition.
- In 2013, a draft Bill prepared by the Sports Ministry had suggested that only national sports federations that are covered under the RTI Act should be allowed to use the name India for their teams. In other words, BCCI’s team could not “officially” represent India unless it came under RTI. The Bill, however, never became a law.
- The latest report of the Law Commission, titled Legal Framework: BCCI vis-à-vis Right to Information Act 2005, has recommended to the Law Ministry that the BCCI be brought under the RTI Act.
- The BCCI has in the past argued that it is not a government body, is registered as a society, and does not receive funds from the government. Therefore, it does not qualify to come under RTI.
- If the BCCI does come under the Right to Information Act, it will likely have to furnish information related to the way it functions, revenue and expenditure among other things.