The Law Commission of India has advised the central government of India to bring the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) under the Right to Information (RTI) Act; along with all of its constituent member cricketing associations.
In the report submitted to the Law Ministry, the law commission stated that BCCI ought to be classified as 'state' within the meaning of Article 12 of the Constitution. "When all other national sports federations are covered under RTI Act, why not BCCI," Law Commission said.
BCCI has powers like state which affects the fundamental rights of stakeholders, guaranteed under Part III of the Constitution, said the Law Commission.
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.
Under the RTI Act, anyone can file PILs in the SC or HCs questioning the selection of players representing India, states, and zones, if the BCCI is brought under the umbrella of RTI.
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.
The report also pointed out that, 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 also pointed out that BCCI has received "substantial financing" from suitable governments in the form of tax exemptions and land grants.
"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2007-2008 onwards, the registration of BCCI under section 12A of the Income Tax Act, 1961, as a charitable trust, was withdrawn," it noted.
"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.
"Moreover, as per the statement made in the Lok Sabha, the central government has already been regarding BCCI as a national sports federation... since all other sports bodies which are listed as NSFs are covered under the RTI Act, it is inconceivable as to why BCCI should be an exception," it said.
(With PTI Inputs)