In its judgment on an RTI appeal, a three-member bench of the Central Information Commission has held that the Delhi and District Cricket Association (DDCA) receives “material” concessions from the government, as it does not pay full rent for the Ferozshah Kotla stadium. However, the commission declined to take a decision on whether the DDCA would be a public authority under the RTI Act.
Noting that the annual rent for the stadium premises calculated at the current commercial rates “should be much higher”, the CIC observed that the DDCA was paying only “a nominal licence fee of Rs. 24.64 lacs per annum to the L&DO (Land and Development Office)”. The CIC bench noted, “It is clear that the concession given by L&DO to DDCA is ‘material/of considerable value’ without which DDCA would struggle to exist.” However, in a split verdict, the bench has declined to issue any further orders on the appeal.
“It has been brought on record that the DDCA’s working is not transparent and there are serious shortcomings in its governance. It is also seen that DDCA has carried out extensive illegal construction in violation of terms of lease of the land as brought out in the inspection report of L&DO officials,” the CIC order has noted.
The decision was issued on an appeal under the RTI Act filed by activist Subhash Chand Aggarwal, who had sought information from the DDCA over its membership and funding. The DDCA had claimed that it was not within the purview of RTI.
In the decision, two CICs — Sharat Sabharwal and Basant Seth adjourned the matter sine die, as various HCs had set aside other CIC orders declaring various entities as public authorities under Section 2 (h) of the RTI Act, on the basis of allotment of land by the appropriate government at highly concessional rates. The commission has allowed the petitioners to raise the matter again after the HCs have pronounced their decision on whether grant of land at concessional rates can bring an entity under the purview of the RTI Act.