Why BCCI Follows British Legacy And Its Logo Too?
CIC Sridhar Acharyulu questions
The Central Information Commission in its order dated 9th June 2017, pointed out that BCCI is using the logo designed by British Raj. CIC Prof Sridhar Acharyulu questioned: “The logo of BCCI derived from the emblem of the Order of the Star of India, symbol used by the British Raj. India gained Independence from British Raj, but Indian Cricket is yet to be relieved from logo designed by and reflecting British Raj. Why BCCI has in its logo a British Star, why not Ashoka’s Chakra or four lions, why ‘Satyameva Jayathe’ is not the motto of BCCI? Whether our team is Indian or British Indian? Symbol of BCCI is similar to the representation of the star of the order on the mantle of British Raj (see left). After First War of Indian Independence in 1857, to consolidate its sovereignty over India, British Crown created a new order of knighthood to honour loyal Indian Princes. No such honours were given after 1948. Did anybody notice that the BCCI is still hanging on to this colonial legacy, ‘symbolically’, & our team flags this logo even today?”
BCCI is National Sports Federation
The Commission said that practically the BCCI is acting like National Sports Federation, which has to be a public authority. Hearing a second appeal filed by Mr Om Prakash Kashiram, the CIC, in its order on 9th June 2017, pointed out that the Supreme Court appointed Justice Lodha Committee has recommended to declare BCCI as public authority under Section 2(h) of Right to Information Act, which was also approved by the apex court. Applicant asked under what authority and provisions of the Constitution the BCCI is selecting Indian Cricket team for international tournaments. The Ministry of sports said it has no information about it and expressed its inability to transfer RTI request to BCCI as the board was claiming it was not public authority. The Ministry said that the Bill to declare each National Sports Federation as public authority as public authority under RTI Act was pending.
Govt’s de-facto recognition
The Supreme Court held in different cases that the BCCI was performing state like public functions and hence shall be answerable to the public in general. In 2016 judgment the apex court approved the recommendation of the Lodha Committee to bring BCCI under the purview of RTI Act. The Law Commission was advised by Supreme Court to guide the Government of India to declare BCCI as public authority.
The apex court held that the Government has granted de-facto recognition to the BCCI and continues to recognize it as the apex national body for regulating the game of cricket in India. The BCCI has tacit recognition or approval/ sanction from Government for selecting the Indian Team which gave it complete monopoly with deep and all pervasive control over the sport of Cricket in India.
As explained by apex court in BCCI case it is amenable to the writ jurisdiction of the High Court under Article 226 even when it is not ‘State’ within the meaning of Article 12. The rationale underlying that view lies in the “nature of duties and functions” which the BCCI performs. It is common ground that the Board has a complete sway over the game of cricket in this country. …. It exercises the power of disqualifying players which may at times put an end to the sporting career of a person. It spends crores of rupees on building and maintaining infrastructure like stadia, running of cricket academies and Supporting State Associations. It frames pension schemes and incurs expenditure on coaches, trainers etc. It sells broadcast and telecast rights and collects admission fee to venues where the matches are played. All these activities are undertaken with the tacit concurrence of the State Government and the Government of India who are not only fully aware but supportive of the activities of the Board. The State has not chosen to bring any law or taken any other step that would either deprive or dilute the Board’s monopoly in the field of cricket. On the contrary, the Government of India have allowed the Board to select the national team which is then recognized by all concerned and applauded by the entire nation including at times by the highest of the dignitaries when they win tournaments and bring laurels home. Those distinguishing themselves in the international arena are conferred highest civilian awards like the Bharat Ratna, Padma Vibhushan, Padma Bhushan and Padma Shri apart from sporting awards instituted by the Government. Such is the passion for this game in this country that cricketers are seen as icons by youngsters, middle aged and the old alike. Any organization or entity that has such pervasive control over the game and its affairs and such powers as can make dreams end up in smoke or come true cannot be said to be undertaking any private activity.
Monopoly over the cricket
In Board of Control for Cricket in India & Anr. v. Netaji Cricket Club and Ors. (2005) 4 SCC 741, Supreme Court referred to monopoly status of BCCI, and said: “The Board is a society registered under the Tamil Nadu Societies Registration Act. It enjoys a monopoly status as regards regulation of the sport of cricket in terms of its Memorandum of Association and Articles of Association. It controls the sport of cricket and lays down the law therefor. It inter alia enjoys benefits by way of tax exemption and right to use stadia at nominal annual rent. It earns a huge revenue not only by selling tickets to viewers but also selling right to exhibit films live on TV and broadcasting the same. Ordinarily, its full members are the State associations except Association of Indian Universities, Railway Sports Control Board and Services Sports Control Board. As a member of ICC, it represents the country in the international fora. It exercises enormous public functions. It has the authority to select players, umpires and officials to represent the country in the international fora. It exercises total control over the players, umpires and other officers. The Rules of the Board clearly demonstrate that without its recognition no competitive cricket can be hosted either within or outside the country. Its control over the sport of competitive cricket is deeply pervasive and complete. In law, there cannot be any dispute that having regard to the enormity of power exercised by it, the Board is bound to follow the doctrine of “fairness” and “good faith” in all its activities.
Peoples’ Right to know about BCCI’s actions
Justice Lodha Committee has opined that people of the country have a right to know the details about the functions of the BCCI and its activities and recommends to the legislature to bring BCCI within the purview of the RTI Act as a public authority.
The Supreme Court said: As a possible first step in the direction in bringing BCCI under purview of Right to Information Act, we expect the Law Commission of India to examine the issue and make a suitable recommendation to the Government”.
Prof Acharyulu finally said: As the nation looks to transparent functioning BCI, the CIC expects: In the interest of good governance and healthy cricket, to avoid scams like match fixing, conflict of interests, misappropriation of public money etc besides upholding the sporting spirit, the BCCI should get ready to be fully transparent in all its functions, or conduct itself like a responsible National Sports Federation, and voluntarily publish its information to public as if it is the public authority under RTI Act till the Union of India formally declared it as the Public Authority through appropriate means.
The cricket fans are expecting the Vinod Rai Committee of Administrators to make BCCI functioning fully transparent. The BCCI under the administration of the Committee of Administrators has to do maximum disclosure on its own, reducing the need to file any RTI. It has to respect apex court’s order by establishing on its own, an RTI wing. The Committee of Administration and the CEO need to immediately initiate efforts to find the facts on the issues raised by Mr Ramachandra Guha, take necessary steps to prevent wrongs, if found to have been committed. It should also come up with Citizen’s Charter on their official website. As Lodha Committee and the apex court pointed out that BCCI did not even publish its own constitution, bylaws, rules and regulations which amounts to refusal to disclose basic material, it is the duty of CoA to publish all such material on its website in both Hindi and English.
The Law Commission has to inform what is their contemplated plan and the timeline, taking into account the urgency in view of the happenings in BCCI and cricket world. The MoYAS has to inform Supreme Court, this Commission and the appellant, its efforts to coordinate with Law Commission, CoA, Lodha Committee, or Attorney General of India to expedite the process of bringing a bill or adopting appropriate legal measures to declare BCCI as public Authority under RTI Act.