Here's why BCCI should come under Right To Information

Noted RTI activist and former CIC boss Shailesh Gandhi supports Lodha committee's recommendation on the grounds that the Indian cricket board receives substantial funding from the government

The Lodha committee in its report has tried to put an end to the debate of whether the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) should come under the Right To Information (RTI) Act.

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Shailesh Gandhi and BCCI president Shashank Manohar
Shailesh Gandhi and BCCI president Shashank Manohar

While Justice RM Lodha and retired Supreme Court judges, Ashok Bhan and R Raveendran have strongly recommended that the Indian cricket board should come under the RTI as it discharges public functions, BCCI president Shashank Manohar has claimed that the cricket body does not fall under the RTI Act because it is not controlled or aided by the government.

Funding matter
However, noted RTI activist and former Central Information Commissioner (CIC) Shailesh Gandhi, said the BCCI can come under the RTI. "The BCCI cannot come under the RTI simply because it performs a public duty. But it can fall under the RTI on the grounds that it gets substantial funding from the government (like plots at concessional rates, etc)," Gandhi told mid-day yesterday.

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Manohar, in his first press conference after taking over as the BCCI president in November, vehemently opposed coming under the RTI purview. Manohar, an eminent lawyer, had said: "As on this day as the law exists, it applies only to state government, institutions which are controlled by the states, either Central or State, or who are substantially aided by the government. Now, we don't fall in either of the category, so therefore RTI cannot be made applicable to us just because people feel that RTI should be made applicable to us. If the government amends the law and decides to make it applicable, then fine, we have no difficulty."

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The Lodha committee report noted that "having regard to the emphasis laid by the Hon'ble Supreme Court that BCCI discharges public functions and also the Court's reference to indirect approval of the Central and State Governments in activities which has created a monopoly in the hands of the BCCI over cricket, the Committee feels that the people of the country have a right to know the details about the BCCI's functions and activities. It is therefore recommended that the legislature must seriously consider bringing BCCI within the purview of the RTI Act."

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Why call it India?
Gandhi said the BCCI shouldn't be given an authority to claim that they represent India. "Why should a 'so-called' private body represent India? It should either be a government body or government-controlled. Otherwise, let the BCCI remain a private club," Gandhi concluded.

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