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Report No. 275

Chapter V

Perusal of The Terms 'Public Authority', 'Public Functions' and 'Substantially Financed'

1. Public Authority

a. National Perspective

5.1 To determine whether BCCI, under the existing legal framework, can be included within RTI Act, 2005, it is required to be ascertained whether BCCI can be termed as a 'public authority' within the meaning assigned to the term under section 2(h) of the Act.

5.2 Section 2(h) defines the term 'public authority' as:

'public authority' means any authority or body or institution of self- government established or constituted-

(a) by or under the Constitution;

(b) by any other law made by Parliament;

(c) by any other law made by State Legislature;

(d) by notification issued or order made by the appropriate Government, and includes[emphasis added] any-

(i) body owned, controlled[emphasis added] or substantially financed;

(ii) non-Government organization substantially financed, directly or indirectly by funds provided by the appropriate Government;

[emphasis added]

5.3 A perusal of the above section establishes that a body 'owned, controlled or substantially financed', as well as a 'non-Government Organisation substantially financed' directly or indirectly by appropriate Government, would be covered in the definition of 'public authority' under the RTI Act, 2005.

5.4 In the case of LIC of India v. Consumer Education and Research Centre,95 the Supreme Court observed that "every action of public authority or any person acting in public interest or its acts[that]give rise to public element, should be guided by public interest".

5.5 In the case of M.P. Varghese v. Mahatma Gandhi University,96 the Kerala High Court observed that the definition of 'public authority' has a much wider meaning than that of the term 'State' under Article 12 of the Constitution. The Court further observed that the definition of 'State' under Article 12 is primarily in relation to enforcement of fundamental rights through courts, whereas the RTI Act, 2005is for providing an effective legislative framework for "effectuating the right to information" as recognised under Article 19 of the Constitution.

5.6 In the case of Dhara Singh Girls High School through its Manager, Virendra Chaudhary v. State of Uttar Pradesh & Ors.,97 the Court held that "whenever there [is] even [an] iota of nexus regarding control [and] finance of public authority over the activity of private body or institution or an organisation" etc. the same would fall under the provisions of section 2(h) of the RTI Act.

5.7 The provisions of the RTI Act have to be interpreted in consonance and harmony with the objects and reasons stated therein, giving them the broadest scope so as to ensure that any unscrupulous persons are not exempted under the Act, and are not able to hide anything from the public, benefitting from concealing any illegal activities.98

5.8 The meaning/ scope of the term "public authority" defined in section 2(h) of the Act, interpreted by several pronouncements of various forums, is sufficiently comprehensive for the current times. Accordingly, at this stage, the Commission does not see the need for a clarification to the statutory definition. That being said, while working on this Report, and examining the information laws of other jurisdictions, one may feel that there are comparatively more comprehensive definitions.

Legal Framework - BCCI Vis--Vis Right to Information Act, 2005 Back

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