D K Bose Vs. PIO (Central Information Commission)
CIC held that In fact, being a public body concerned with public activity like football, the Delhi Soccer Association (DSA) should have voluntarily disclosed entire information about it, including the bits and pieces asked by the appellant in this and several other appeals, and fulfill its obligation under Section 4 of RTI Act. They want all authority over the sport in Delhi for them and them alone but do not want to share the information. Unfortunately, it appeared from their submissions that it prefers to blame the appellant and banish him without information. The DSA should understand that it is answerable to each and every sports person and sports lover in this country and has an obligation to the nation to bring out highly meritorious football players from the National Capital Region of Delhi, without quarreling to deny information.
The Commission has no hesitation to declare unequivocally, that being under the control of Government of India, AIFF and with grant of monopoly, that is totally established over the sport of Football within territory of NCR of Delhi, the Delhi Soccer Association is a body controlled and substantially financed by the Government of India and hence the public authority under Section 2(h) of RTI Act, 2005.
Full Text of the Central Information Commission Order is as follows:-
1. The appellant sought information on the status of various complaints received by DSA office bearers namely Mr. N.K. Bhatia, Vice President, Mr. Hem Chand, Treasurer, Mr. Rajiv Gupta, Joint Secretary from girl footballers of Delhi against Mr. Nagender Singh, Vice President & In-charge, Girls Football, DSA; the details of members of the Committee so formed by DSA under section-4 of Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace Act, 2013; copy of notices and minutes of meetings of DSA etc. through eleven points. Since no information was provided, the appellant approached this Commission.
2. The Commission’s order dated 25.09.2017:
2. Shri N.K. Bhatia, Vice President on 14.09.2017 submitted a written explanation, which explains:
“6. Without prejudice, the respondent would like to apprise this Hon’ble Commission, that respondent is not a public authority as defined under Section 2(h) and (f) of the RTI Act, as is nor financed by Government neither the Government had any external control in day to day administration of the Delhi Soccer Association as defined in the Judgment of the Apex Court titled as “TMA Pai and Other Vs. State of Karnataka and other”.
Section 2(h) “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 any—
(i) body owned, controlled or substantially financed;
(ii) non-Government organization substantially financed, directly or indirectly by funds provided by the appropriate Government;
Section 2(f) “information” means any material in any form, including records, documents, memos, e-mails, opinions, advices, press releases, circulars, orders, logbooks, contracts, reports, papers, samples, models, data material held in any electronic form and information relating to any private body which can be accessed by a public authority under any other law for the time being in force;
7. In addition, the Apex Court in a writ petition filed by the Youth Bar Association of India while upholding the right of an accused to information and putting a check on the authority of the police to deprive a person of his liberty directed the police authority to upload the FIR within 24 hours. However, the Bench exempted from publication of FIRs in certain cases. These include cases of insurgency, child abuse, sexual offences and terrorism. The respondent would like to submit that the appellant herein with some ulterior motives has specifically interested in the information related to complaints of sexual harassment that itself barred to disclose other than to the parties of the Complaint.
8. In addition, the appellant herein seeks information which is in regard to a third party and not at all in the interest of public and in view of the mandate of sexual harassments laws and as stated in above said judgment same is considered to be confidential in nature & hence exempted from disclosure.
9. Further, the respondent herein is not the appropriate authority/forum to seek information as sought in the referred RTI dated 28.03.2017 and appellant has to address his queries to the competent authorities who have ceased with the matter if there is any.
9. Moreover, the respondent herein already replied to the said queries as raised under RTI dated 28.03.2017 to the affiliating body of the respondent and Delhi Government through Delhi Women Commission, who were ceased with the Complaints of irregularities and Sexual harassment respectively. The details are as under:
a) Reply dated 08.08.2017 by respondent addressed to ‘The Chairperson, Delhi Commission for Women, C Block, II Floor, Vikas Bhawan, IP Estate, New Delhi – 110002.
b) Reply dated 23.08.2017 by respondent addressed to General Secretary, All India Football Federation.
c) Reply dated 29.04.2017 by respondent addressed to Deputy Secretary, Legislative Assembly Secretariat, NCT of Delhi.
It is pertinent to mention here that subsequent to the above said replies, All India Football Federation vide its letter dated 08.09.2017 addressed to Under Secretary, GOI, Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports, Shastri Bhawan has already submitted a reply to the appellant herein thereby addressing grievances of the appellant if there is any.
11. This reply is without prejudice to Respondents rights in any other proceedings which have already been initiated/filed and/or may be initiated/filed before any Court of Law/ Commission with regard to the aforementioned notice under reply.
3. Shri Kushal Das, General Secretary, All India Football Federation wrote a letter to Shri Subhash Chopra, President of Delhi Soccer Association on 11.08.2017 seeking clarification about the complaints regarding state of footballing affairs, allegations of sexual harassment against Vice-President, DSA & RTI application of Shri D.K. Bose. The relevant excerpts are as under:
“This is to inform you that we (“AIFF”) have recently been apprised through a complaint dated March 28, 2017 made to the Delhi Soccer Association (“DSA”) followed by an RTI application dated April 25, 2017, filed under the Right to Information Act, 2005, both by Mr. D.K. Bose, that certain complaints have been filed by the women footballers registered with the DSA against Mr. Nagender Singh, Vice President, DSA regarding acts of alleged sexual harassment having been committed by him in his line of duty with the DSA. Apart from this, other relevant queries inviting our attention towards the general shabby state of affairs within the DSA, financial irregularities and other discrepancies are also included in the said complaint and RTI application.
Regarding the issue of sexual harassment, it may be noted that the AIFF had forwarded the DSA on May 15, 2017, a complaint by the father of a girl player, Ms X against Mr. Nagender Singh as received by the AIFF where it has been alleged that although Mr. Nagender Singh has been removed from his post as a result of the complaints against him, he yet till date continues to travel along with the girls teams due to inaction on part of DSA. The original complaint of Ms. X of August 2010 was also attached therewith. However, till date we have received no reply whatsoever from the DSA regarding the issue raised in the said letter.
Further, the Ministry of Youth Affairs & Sports, Government of India vide its letter dated June 22, 2017, taking due cognizance of the matter, has forwarded us a copy of an email along with other supporting documents received from one Mr. Ranvijay Singh, convenor of ‘Save Delhi Football Campaign’ claiming several complaints having been filed regarding state of football affairs and sexual harassment of girl footballers in Delhi.
Also, the above said RTI applicant has not filed a ‘First Appeal’ with the appellate authority of the AIFF under the provisions of the RTI Act on July 13, 2017 looking to follow up on the information requested via his RTI application dated April 25, 2017. Since the issues raised therein pertain wholly to the DSA, we are compelled to approach the DSA directly to obtain its detailed reply to the contents of the said application.
It is needless to say that we consider the issues raised therein to be very serious in nature and of paramount importance, which under no circumstances, can be overlooked.
In view of the same therefore, we call upon you to properly investigate into the matter and provide a suitable item wise reply along with relevant supporting documents, to the queries raised by the applicant in his said RTI application and send the same to us within and in any case not later than a period of 7(seven) days from the receipt of the present letter. In case the issues raised therein have already been discussed and investigated by the DSA, you are requested to make the results of such internal investigation available to us within 3(three) working days from the receipt of this letter”.
4. Shri Subhash Chopra, President of Delhi Soccer Association on 23.08.2017 wrote a detailed letter to Shri Kushal Das, General Secretary, All India Football Federation in response to Ref. No. AIFF/Reference/State/MYAS/1575 dated 11.08.2017 clarifying about the complaints regarding state of footballing affairs, allegations of sexual harassment against Vice-President, DSA & RTI application of Shri D.K. Bose. The relevant excerpts are as under:
“…I have been directed to inform you that on receipt of complaints from some women players against the then Chairman of Women’s Committee for the period July 2011 till March 2014, Mr. Nagendra Singh, Vice President of DSA, immediately a meeting of the Managing Committee was called and he was replaced by Dr. (Ms.) Anju Luthra, Associate Professor & Director, Physical Education of Jesus & Marry College, who is a well known sporting figure of Delhi, as new Chairperson of Women Committee and as well as a new Committee was also constituted. Being an affiliated Unit of AIFF, the following information is being passed on to our parent body to clarify the position of DSA in response to the information asked under RTI filed by Mr. D.K. Bose, who is currently under suspension and has been running a vilifying campaign along with some disgruntled elements only after action was taken against him.
1. The Managing Committee carefully considered and discussed the matter in detail and accordingly informed the National Women Commission and Delhi Women and Delhi Women Commission.
2. As the DSA is not holding players on wages and not acting as their employer, hence formation of any such Committee is beyond the jurisdiction of DSA.
3. During the senior Division Annual Football League Championship 2015-2016, a protest was lodged by Indian National against Young men SC for fielding an ineligible player and the erring Club was penalized as per rules of the League.
4. Audited accounts of the Association and duly approved expenses have been, time & again approved by the Managing Committee and shall only be available to the members of the Executive Committee. As and when, Annual General Body meeting will be called, the same will be placed before it.
5 & 6. Due to certain reasons the AGMs of the DSA could not be held, as required. However, the Managing Committee (M/C), from time to time, discuss the accounts in its meetings and made corrections wherever required. The MC in its meeting held on 10/06/2011 approved the proposed budget for 2011-12 and since has been following it till date.
7. Query at S. No. 7 is hypothetic and based on assumption. Moreover, it is pertinent to mention that Special Annual General Body meeting was held on 14/06/2015 as per the Constitution and the complainant was also one of the signatories in the said meeting where he did not raise any query/objection to this effect..
8. Subsequent to the Special Annual General Body meeting held on 14/06/2015 to adopt the new Constitution of DSA as per directives of AFC/AIFF and for that purpose retired High Court Judge has already been appointed to conduct the fresh Elections and due process to this effect has already been initiated by the Returning Officer.
9. The Managing Committee of DSA nominated its President, Shri Subhash Chopra, to contest the post of the Vice-President of AIFF in its meeting held on 04/12/2016.
10. The various committees and sub-committees of the Association/Federation are constituted as per provisions of the Constitution and prevalent practices.
11. The Managing Committee authorizes the President from time to time, to nominate the members of the MC on AIFF sub-committees.
It seems that few disgruntled elements out of frustration and malice are bent upon damaging the image of the Association in general and football in particular.
Needless to mention here that during the last two and a half years, the Delhi State Women Football Committee have not received a single complaint and Delhi teams have performed creditably well in the three Nationals and finished third (Bronze) in Dibrugarh (Assam), Goa and recently concluded National held at Cuttack, Odissa). It was made possible because of the untiring efforts of Delhi State Women Committee under the guidance of DSA. I have been personally monitoring the women football activities on day to day basis.
As far as Mr. D.K. Bose (Hindustan Football Club) us concerned the AIFF is well aware of his modus operandi. He is known for manipulating/fabricating documents and papers for his personal benefits as well as for his club and academics. Hence, some exemplary action should be taken against him”.
5. The appellant stated that the respondent authority is receiving grants from the government either directly or indirectly. The office of the Delhi Soccer Association is located at Ambedkar Stadium, which is owned by Municipal Authority (which is a public authority). He further alleged that there has been no election conducted since past two years and the President of the Delhi Soccer Association never comes to office in order to discharge his duties. The appellant further stated that he is seeking only the status of sexual harassment case and nothing else.
6. The officers of the respondent authority stated that they do not come under the purview of the RTI Act, 2005 since they are nowhere declared as a public authority either expressly or on implied terms. They also submitted that the appellant had a club of his own, which was barred by the respondent authority due to certain reasons on 31.03.2017. They also asserted that the appellant is trying to put in efforts to run a parallel Commission/Association in competition with the respondent authority.
7. The Commission directs the respondent authority and the appellant to exchange the documents in support of the contentions raised by each other, within 7 days and the instant matter is adjourned to 13.10.2017 at 2:30 PM.
Proceedings on 13.10.2017:
3. The officers of the respondent authority refused to share any document to the appellant except auditor’s report and also alleged that the appellant is a habitual misuser of RTI. The appellant denied it and said that since he received the copy of the reply from the respondent authority at the time of hearing, he sought time to file his counter. The officers of the respondent authority stated that the Delhi Soccer Association is an independent body since more than 100 years and has no parallel clubs or private clubs that are affiliated to them. In this regard, the appellant on 25.10.2017 submitted a rejoinder, which categorically states:
“The reply of DSA dated 13.10.2017 was received by the Appellant at the time of hearing on 13.10.2017 without any enclosures, whereas as per the direction of the Hon’ble CIC the Respondents were to give the response to the undersigned within one week from 25.09.2017 and the replies were to be exchanged. The submission from the Appellant was given to your good self and the Respondent in time, whereas they failed to obey the direction of the Hon’ble Commission.
2. The Respondent is stating that the Appellant is trying to mislead the Hon’ble Commission by stating that the Respondent is a public authority without giving any proof to the contrary.
3. The Respondents are having monopoly in holding any football activity/ tournament as it gets support and recognition from the AIFF. AIFF affiliate only one single body in the state, therefore DSA hold monopoly and the nomenclature “Delhi Soccer Association” is representative as the word ‘Delhi’ indicated monopoly.
4. The DSA has not pointed out the amount claimed and money paid to MCD & the concessions availed from DDA. The rent charged by MCD for the space allotted and the agreement and MoA of the DSA if any has also not been provided. It shows that DSA intends to conceal the information. Simply saying it is operating from Ambedkar Stadium for nearly a century does not hold good.
5. The DSA has not indicated the amount of funds given for running the activities funded by All India Football Federation which is a public authority, which they have also not disclosed.
6. There is a deep and pervasive control of All India Football Federation. There are required to follow all the orders of the AIFF and AIFF deputes the officials of DSA on domestic and foreign tour from the funds provided by AIFF. Had they not been affiliated, the members would not have got even a bleak chance to such privileges/ facilities provided by AIFF.
7. The Respondents have alleged that the Appellant is a habitual misuser of RTI Act. On one hand the Respondents say that they are not public authority and on the other hand they are saying that the Appellant is a habitual misuser of RTI Act, this speaks volumes. In fact, the Appellant has asked for these documents which the respondent has not provided in spite of repeated requests during the last 8 months.
8. Regarding sexual harassment complaints and other issues, the Appellant has informed how he was privy to the complaints and who gave him the copies of the complaint. These complaints are available with hundred persons in Delhi. Therefore saying that appellant has failed to disclose the source of alleged sexual harassment complaints is wrong and misleading. The details have been mentioned in my earlier submission dated 28.09.2017, which was given to Respondents also which they have admitted on 13.10.2017. Therefore the Respondents statement that the Appellant has failed to disclosed the source is not correct and by stating so they are trying to mislead & confuse the Commission. Nowhere, the Appellant sought a copy of the report, but just sought the action taken and whether any inquiry has been conducted. In the first response before the Commission, the Respondent mentioned that they are not mandated to form a Committee under Sexual Harassment case, as the same is not warranted by the DSA, which is must under Visakha guidelines.
9. The submission made by the Appellant on 14th& 28thSeptember, 2017 may please be taken on record while deciding the issue. Moreover, the Respondents have failed to provide any substantial proof to prove that they are not Public Authority under RTI Act as per Section 2(h) of the RTI Act. There is deep and pervasive control by AIFF on DSA, the grants are given to DSA by AIFF for conducting tournaments, the office/store space has been given by MCD, the agreement for which they could not provide. Land, lease agreement/rent agreement could not be provided by the Respondents. This leads to circumstantial evidence of their action.
10. The CIC, keeping in view the submissions made by the Appellant, may declare, DSA as PUBLIC AUTHORITY and direct them to upload on DSA website mandatory information/ documents as asked for by the Appellant immediately.”
4. One of the contentious issues before the Commission is whether DSA is a public authority under the RTI Act. To determine the same, the criterion prescribed under Section 2(h) is whether it is a “body owned, controlled or substantially financed” by the appropriate Government. It is true, as claimed by the DSA that it is not owned by any government. Next aspect to be examined is: Is it controlled or substantially financed by the Government?
5. Justice Mudgal Committee which was probing the IPL affairs in 2014 has highlighted in its report the need for enactment of a special legislation to declare all forms of manipulations of sports, corruption and malpractices a criminal offence. In one such matter between Subhash Chandra Agrawal vs. PIO, Department of Sportsvide file no. CIC/LS/C/2012/000565 decided by this Commission on 16.06.2017, the CPIO in that matter stated that the Ministry of Youth and Sports Affairs represented that draft legislation was revised under the title ‘The Prevention of Sports Fraud Bill, 2015 aiming at prevention of match fixing, spot fixing, manipulation of sports results, disclosure of insider information etc. The PMO has advised the department to re-examine whether sports frauds needs a standalone Act or it can be dealt with by making necessary provisions in the Indian Penal Code and to seek expert legal opinion on this. Accordingly the Ministry of Law was consulted on this issue. Beyond this the progress on this aspect is not known.
6. The representative of the Ministry explained in the above mater that, every year they recognize the National Sports Federations and publish the list of recognized National Sports Federations all over country, which is available on the website of the Ministry. As per the Press Information Bureau’s report dated 15.12.2015, it has been categorically mentioned the list of NSFs, which have been given annual recognition for 2015 consisting of 55 sports in which All India Football Federation has been mentioned in serial no. 17. Further, the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports has also announced All India Football Federation at serial no. 15 in the list of recognized NSFs for the year 2017. ( https://yas.nic.in/sites/default/files/updated%20final%20recognised%20list%2031-7-2017%20wid%20RSFs%20&%3B%20nspo.pdf ) The DSA is the only State level sports body for football in National Capital Region of Delhi. It is thus an intrinsic part of the public authority with all the powers, finances and support from the federation to conduct, promote and select teams in the Football sport.
7. The written submissions of Shri Kushal Das, General Secretary, All India Football Federation show that it was constantly writing to Shri Subhash Chopra, the President of Delhi Soccer Association seeking clarifications on various complaints including allegations of sexual harassment against its Vice-President. Even in performing its activities as sole body of football in Delhi, the DSA is expected to act under the control and supervision of the All India Football Federation, a public authority under the Ministry of Sports. Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports also wrote, as authentically mentioned in submissions seeking the due cognizance of the matters that formed basis for agitation under title ‘Save Delhi Football” campaign. The submissions of Shri Subhash Chopra of DSA also confirm the same.
8. The appellant pointed out in support of his contention that DSA is a public authority that it is residing in Ambedkar Stadium owned by Municipal Corporation, which could be considered as indirect financial funding by the Government, and the monopoly is the substantial source of authority of DSA besides being its main resource.
9. As per the submissions of DSA, it is in existence for more than 100 years. They do not have any parallel bodies or affiliated bodies. The DSA is using the expression Delhi in their title and there is no other body in Delhi to deal with or conduct football activities in Delhi, which is the monopoly. Whatever importance, finances or authority that DSA draws is only from this exclusive control over the football sport within Delhi. Delhi Soccer Association has the complete authority excluding all others for ever, over the sporting activity as far as football is concerned. The state like authority is thus established over this important sport, in favour of DSA and in DSA alone. All its resources, profits or meeting expenses happens because of this sanctioned or authorized monopoly over the sport, which cannot be ignored in deciding the ‘public authority’ status of a sports body like DSA. The monopoly recognized, sanctioned and continued by the Government of India through Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports, and also through the All India Football Federation, is the indirect but substantial funding by the Government. This factor is enough to declare the DSA as public authority, though another criterion also could be applied, i.e., the direct and real control of the Government or Governmental agencies over it.
10. Even as a registered association or society it cannot escape the duty to disclose. The DSA will decide the future of youth in football. It has to encourage the sports persons in fair manner based on merit and no other consideration. The DSA cannot escape the responsibility of creating and maintaining conducive atmosphere for all sporting youth, especially football playing girls, for growth and encouragement. The frequent complaints by the girls/ women sports persons including sexual harassment against an important executive like Vice President reflect unhealthy atmosphere that is prevalent in DSA, for which it has to responsibly account for.
11. The submissions by the DSA are self contradictory. On one hand it accuses the appellant as misuse, admits it has given information as far as possible and then claims that it is not bound to give any information. It did not deny that it has complete monopoly over the sport in Delhi, but refuses to be answerable under RTI Act. This is highly unbecoming of a sports body. In fact, being a public body concerned with public activity like football, the DSA should have voluntarily disclosed entire information about it, including the bits and pieces asked by the appellant in this and several other appeals, and fulfill its obligation under Section 4 of RTI Act. They want all authority over the sport in Delhi for them and them alone but do not want to share the information. Unfortunately, it appeared from their submissions that it prefers to blame the appellant and banish him without information. The DSA should understand that it is answerable to each and every sports person and sports lover in this country and has an obligation to the nation to bring out highly meritorious football players from the National Capital Region of Delhi, without quarreling to deny information.
12. The Commission has no hesitation to declare unequivocally, that being under the control of Government of India, AIFF and with grant of monopoly, that is totally established over the sport of Football within territory of NCR of Delhi, the Delhi Soccer Association is a body controlled and substantially financed by the Government of India and hence the public authority under Section 2(h) of RTI Act, 2005.
13. In the light of the contentions raised, submissions made and documents perused, the Commission is of the view that the respondent authority is accountable and answerable as public authorities under RTI Act, 2005. Besides, as per Section 19(8) of the RTI Act, the Commission requires the public authority to:
a. appoint a PIO as per section 19(8)(a)(ii) of the Act and report back the compliance, within 30 days;
b. update their official website with regard to information pertaining to old constitution of DSA, annual reports and the appointment date as well as the tenure of the members of the Executive Committee as per Section 19(8)(a)(iii), the same which should have been complied as per section 4(1)(b) of RTI Act;
c. intimate what action was taken on the sexual harassment complaints against DSA, without disclosing the name of the complainants shall be provided, within 15 days;
d. intimate the appellant that if the allegations are prima facie correct, on what ground the President is continuing in the office? and
The Commission directs the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports to inform the appellant and the Commission the action taken on the complaints/ representations and allegations mentioned above about DSA, within 15 days from the date of receipt of this order.