BENGALURU: The Karnataka High Court has held that the Bangalore Turf Club Limited, Mysore Race Club Limited, Ladies Club, Bengaluru, and The Institution of Engineers (India), Karnataka, are ‘public authorities’ as defined under the Right to Information Act.Upholding the order of the Karnataka Information Commission (KIC) in this regard, and dismissing the petitions filed by these institutions, Justice P B Bajanthri noted that the petitioners were all non-government organisations, which have benefited directly or indirectly by funds provided by the state government, and would fall under “public authority” under Section 2(h) of the Right to Information Act, 2005.
These institutions filed separate petitions in the high court, questioning the KIC orders on the petition filed by S Umapathi seeking certain information.After hearing the parties, the court said that the State largesse has been extended to the petitioners under lease deeds in relation to land. Therefore, they are holding lease lands on behalf of the people and are accountable to the people. If this material information is taken into consideration, one has to draw inference that the petitioners do fall under the definition of ‘public authority’ under Act, 2005, the court added.
The court pointed out that the information submitted to it reveals that BTCL and MRCL had been leased land at a throwaway price. If the market value of the land is taken on a particular date, then it is evident that huge indirect financial aid has been provided by the State to the petitioners, it said.
In respect of the other two petitioners -- Ladies Club and The Institution of Engineers – the court said that they had not provided the details of the lease amount.In view of the factual aspects of the matter and dictum of law, the petitioners have not made out a case so as to interfere with the KIC’s impugned orders. Accordingly, the petitions are dismissed, the court said.