The Madras High Court on Friday stayed the operation of an order passed by the Central Information Commission (CIC) on October 1 holding the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) to be a ‘public authority’ which was bound to disclose information under the Right to Information (RTI) Act of 2005 .
Justice Pushpa Sathyanarayana granted the interim stay after senior counsel P.R. Raman, representing the BCCI, brought it to her notice that the CIC should not have passed such an order when the High Court was seized of a case filed in 2013 questioning the applicability of the RTI Act to the BCCI.
In an affidavit filed in support of the present writ petition, BCCI Chief Executive Officer Rahul Johri said the board was registered as a society and bears a registration under the Tamil Nadu Societies Registration Act of 1975. The object of the society was to promote and administer the game of cricket in the country.
It had various State-level cricket associations and all-India universities as its members who had developed their own infrastructure to host domestic and international cricket matches. On December 4, 2017, Geeta Rani, a resident of Delhi, submitted an application under the RTI Act to the Union Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports.
She wanted to know the authority under which the BCCI was representing the country and selecting players.
The Central Public Information Officer of the Ministry replied to her on December 14 stating that the information was not available with it and that the application could not be forwarded to the BCCI because the latter had not been declared as a public authority.
Though the applicant appealed against the reply, the first appellate authority upheld the CPIO’s decision. However, on second appeal, the CIC held that the BCCI was indeed a public authority.
A consequential direction was also issued to its president, secretary and committee of administrators to put in place a mechanism to respond to the RTI Act queries.
Besides directing them to disclose the information sought for by Ms. Rani, the CIC directed the Board to disclose about 17 categories of information such as its functions and duties, procedures followed in the decision making process, norms set by it for discharging its functions and the categories of documents under its control. The Ministry was also ordered to take necessary steps to ensure implementation of the directions issued by the CIC to the BCCI and hence the present petition.