CHENNAI: Ever since the time all national sports federations were brought under the purview of the Right to Information Act—as per the National Sports Development Bill—there has been a raging debate as to whether the Board of Control for Cricket in India, the world’s richest cricketing body, too should be included within its radar.
The Board members adamantly insisted that it needn’t be as it was registered as an autonomous body under the Societies Act, the RTI-enthusiasts demanded the implementation of it as cricket was a public sport and the cricketers are representing the country. In fact it was Justice Mukul Mudgal—also part of the apex-court’s probe panel that looked into the IPL spot-fixing and betting scandal, who had voiced the need to bring the BCCI into the RTI ambit in his capacity as the chairman of the committee that had drafted the Sports Development Bill.
The pro-RTI campaigners now have some hope as the SC bench on Thursday observed that though the BCCI was a private body, it performed a public function and was therefore amenable to judicial law and review. But noted lawyer Rahul Mehra, whose Public Interest Litigation on bringing the Board under RTI was stayed by Chennai Supreme Court. “The SC has just observed that the law of the land is applicable to the BCCI, that they are accountable to the public. That doesn’t automatically mean that it comes under the RTI. An observation is not enough to bring the BCCI under RTI,” he said.
Without political support, it will be difficult to make the RTI applicable to the BCCI. “It’s not very hard. But it requires political will and consensus. And at the moment it doesn’t seem like happening, as the Board has influential members cutting across parties. It had the support of UPA, and now it has the support of NDA. And when it comes to cricket, even they seem to bury their political differences,” he explained.
A senior board official, meanwhile, specified that the government should not try to hijack the game’s administration by bringing it under the RTI.
“I agree that the BCCI is accountable to the public. And we are accountable to the public. But the government intervening in its administration is not exactly a thing to welcome. You know that the BCCI is the most professionally-run sports body in the country. Government’s intervention might ruin the game,” he said.