Karnataka SIC: Bangalore Turf Club comes under the ambit of RTI Act
During the hearing of a complaint lodged with the Karnataka State Information Commission (SIC), the commission has declared that Bangalore Turf Club (BTC) is a public authority and therefore falls within the purview of the Right to Information (RTI) Act, 2005.
The commission noted during the hearing that the government had leased around 75 acres of land to the turf club in 1923. Till 1968, no other revenue except for betting tax, entertainment tax and license fee was collected in respect of the land after which a lease amount of Rs. 50,000 per annum was fixed which was gradually increased to Rs. 30 lakh.
The SIC observed that the BTC possessed the land for free for 45 years, after which it paid for a few years at a meagre rate of 15 paisa per sq ft. From 1989 to 2009, the club paid only 92 paisa per sq ft which suggests that it was being indirectly financed by the government and hence fulfills the requirement of government control under Section 2 (1) (h) (d) (ii) of the RTI Act. Declaring BTC as the public authority, the commission asked the club to appoint Special Public Information Officer (PIO), Assistant PIO and the First Appellate Authority (FAA) by issuing notification within three months.
The SIC also directed the Secretary, Department of Personnel and Administration Reforms (DPAR), which has direct control over BTC, to supervise the implementation of the order and has sought compliance report from the DPAR and the BTC within three months.