The Supreme Court endorsed a Kerala high court judgement, which held that officails of sports bodies are 'public servants' and liable to be prosecuted under the Prevention of Corruption Act.
A bench of justices V S Sirpurkar and T S Thakur upheld the high court's October 26 ruling, dismissing two separate appeals by Kerala Cricket Association secretary T C Mathew and president T R Balakrishnan against it.
The high court had held the duo to be public servants while permitting their prosecution under the anti-corruption law.
The apex court dismissed the KCA officials' appeals, noting that the sports body officials handle huge funds allocated by the government and various apex sports institutions and perform functions akin to those of public servants, like selectintg cricket teams and controlling players' activities.
"If you actually handle so much funds, can you say you are not discharging public functions"? the apex court bench said.
The KCA officials had moved the high court challenging its October 26 ruling which allowed their prosecution under the Prevention of Corruption Act for allegedly misappropriating a huge chunk of KCA funds, which included Rs 28.42 crores, received from BCCI in 2004-08 and Rs 1.88 lakhs, receieved from the state government for promotion of cricket.
The high court had given a go-ahead for their prosecution under the anti-corruption law, setting aside a trial court ruling that KCA was not a public body and its officials could not be booked under Anti-Corruption Act.
The two KCA officials had moved the apex court contending that the state sports body is a private society registered under Tranvancore Cochin Literary, Scientific and Charitable Societies Registration Act, 1955, and they cannot be said to be performing public functions and cannot be tried under the Prevention of Corruption Act.
But the apex court concurred with the high court, which had noted the public duty of the sports body and had said "when KCA is having the monopoly of regulating cricket in Kerala, including selection of cricket team for the state, controlling the activities of the players and others involved in the game, the duties authorised or required to be performed by the president and the secretary are public duties".
"They cannot be heard to contend that they are not performing those public duties as authorised or required by virtue of the office they are holding," the high court had said.
While examining if the KCA was akin to the state as defined under Article 12 of the Constitution, the high court held that many officials of sports bodies perform duties like representing the sports nationally, selecting teams and initiating disciplinary action against players.
And these duties rendered them to be public servants, liabe to be prosecuted under Section 2(c) of the Prevention of Corruption Act.