Justice RM Lodha has said that the Law Commission’s recommendation of bringing BCCI under the RTI Act was virtually the implementation of the 2016 Supreme Court order. In an interview with The Indian Express, the retired Chief Justice of India stressed the importance of the move to bring accountability and transparency to the Indian cricket board. Excerpts.
How do you see the Law Commission’s recommendation of bringing BCCI under the ambit of the RTI Act?
This was part of our report. The fundamental ruling that the Supreme Court has given is that the BCCI discharges public function which is of national interest. If you want to ensure accountability and transparency in such an organisation, information must be available to the public at large. The information about how they function should be in public domain – all these things would be possible if the RTI Act is made applicable. This is the recommendation by the Law Commission, the executive will have to take a call. Once they accept the recommendation, it will be the law. This is a step forward in bringing transparency and accountability to the BCCI, rather it must be applicable to all sports bodies.
But the BCCI hasn’t yet fully implemented the SC order yet …
It’s very sad. I have reservations on whether the government will accept the recommendations, because you know BCCI has always been influenced by politicians and people from political parties. They have a huge, huge clout. It is a matter of interest for them … I don’t know if it serves their political purpose and whether they will be keen to bring that law. But yes, it is a recommendation by the Law Commission which is always weighty andthe government is expected to give deep thought and consideration.
Also Read: Bring BCCI under RTI, says Law Commission
The BCCI has always argued that they don’t take government funds, so why should they open themselves to any kind of outside scrutiny…
See financial support is not necessarily money. The Supreme court in its order has said BCCI gets tax exemption, they get huge government land at concessional or nominal lease rent. For some of the cricket grounds, just token money has been paid. If you compute, this is surely financial (aid). The SC said the BCCI discharges a public function and does public duty. So to say that money is not given as grant is not a very good argument. Indirectly a lot of financial benefits are given to state associations.
But BCCI is governed by the Tamil Nadu Societies Registration Act and by bringing it under RTI, a precedent is being set. Will this mean all such bodies will come under RTI?
It may be a society, but look governing sports is of public interest so the BCCI is discharging a public function. If a body is discharging public function there should be co-relating responsibility also. It not always necessary RTI is implemented only on state and public authorities. If a body is discharging public function, it definitely owes certain obligation to the public. The fundamental for any governance is how you bring transparency and how you bring accountability.
Since this was part of your recommendations and subsequently the SC order, isn’t it inevitable that BCCI will have to come under RTI?
Actually this (BCCI under RTI) is already the law of the land. This recommendation is just reemphasising the order. The ball is in the court of the executive to take a call whether a law needs to be amended or enacted in line of the recommendation of the Law Commission and place it before Parliament.
Also Read – Lodha Panel Report: Top 10 recommendations
What about the scenario if people start asking about the minutes of selection committee meetings?
Look the demarcation could be about cricketing matters, particularly things like the working of selection committee and others, etc. Perhaps, some exception can be carved out. Mainly, it is the governance and administrative matters that need to be in public domain. Even in the RTI Act, certain exceptions are carved out, like you can’t seek personal information of a person in the garb of RTI.
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