ISLAMABAD: In a landmark verdict, the Pakistan Information Commission on Friday declared that the Pakistan Cricket Board is a “Public Body” and is answerable under the Right of Access to Information Act, 2017 commonly known as Right to Information (RTI).
In pursuance of an appeal filed by a citizen namely Syed Raza Ali Shah, PIC has issued orders and directed the PCB to provide information certified copies of contracts signed by PCB with the lawyers / firms from January 01, 2015 to date, to represent PCB at legal forums to the citizen within 10 working days.
During the proceeding of the Appeals, the council of PCB argued that the PCB is not liable and accountable to provide the information under the Act as it is dissimilar to the other autonomous/semi-autonomous bodies for the reason that PCB generates all its funds through its own resources and revenues from the sale of its commercial, media rights and other ventures and that government exchequer isn’t involved for any payment.
PIC order states that although the organization is earning its revenues from the sale of commercial and media rights but it is worth noting that all the activities carried out by the organization are based on the cricket stadiums/grounds constructed on the leased land, owned by the government.
The Order authored by the Information Commissioner, Fawad Malik states that all offices of the PCB are constructed on the government land leased in favor of the PCB at a highly subsidised rate which affords the source of income for the organization. The organization is therefore earning from the activities, sports or commercial, carried out on the leased land sponsored by the government at a supported rate.Apart from the sports activities, the PCB is deriving income from commercial activities like shops, showrooms and restaurants etc, outside the stadiums.
According to the lease agreements provided by the organization in the case of Qaddafi Stadium, Lahore the PCB is paying token rent of Rs.1000/- per year for very valuable land measuring 180 kanal 1 Marla while in the other case of land in Karachi the annual lease rent is worked out at the rate of Rs.1210/- per acre. This token money paid by the PCB is figurative and symbolic aiming to provide the citizens of Pakistan the facility of enjoying the sports and other activities, order maintained.
The eight pages verdict further states that Section 5 of the constitution of Pakistan Cricket Board states that the Prime Minister of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan shall be the Patron who may from time to time, give general policy directions to the Board for its consideration.
PCB is established under the Sports (Development and Control) ordinance 1962. The section 2 of the ordinance states “any statutory corporation or other body corporate or institution set up or established or owned or controlled or funded by the Federal Government. In the Rules of Business, 1973 of Cabinet Secretariat (Cabinet Division), Islamabad the Pakistan Cricket Board is placed at item 18(38) under Interior Division. All the Divisions, attached departments including the autonomous bodies of the Federal Government are enlisted in the definition of the public body as defined in section 2(ix)(a) the Act.
In the light of the discussion above the Commission is therefore of the considered view that the PCB is a public body, answerable and accountable under the Right of Access to Information Act, 2017.
In another appeal, PIC also directed the PCB to provide copies of the contract signed by PCB with managers of National Cricket Team from January 01, 1991 to December 31, 1999.
It is pertinent to mention that earlier this, Islamabad Club was also declared a public body under the Right of Access to Information by the Pakistan Information Commission on basis of getting highly subsidise land from the Government.