Well, it seems so based on the reason given by AICF while denying the information sought under the Right to Information (RTI) Act by Fide Master (FM) Gurpreet Pal Singh, a chess player, as per the order of Chief Information Commission’s (CIC).
"The AICF had earlier told the Competition Commission of India (CCI) that its records were destroyed by the Chennai floods in 2015," Singh told IANS.
At a hearing held at the Chief Information Commission’s (CIC) office on April 5, the AICF’s Chief Public Information Officer (CPIO) had submitted that the requisite information pertains to the Chennai office and apprised the bench that the relevant records have been destroyed/damaged due to pest.
"Upon being queried by the Commission whether he has any proof for the same, he could not provide a cogent reply," the CIC order notes.
"Earlier AICF had told the Competition Commission of India (CCI) that its records were damaged due to flooding due to cyclone," Singh said.
Be that as it may, the CIC has ordered AICF to provide the details sought by Singh.
The CIC also lashed out at CPIO for providing mindless and incongruous and misleading replies, which were nothing but a clear dereliction of duty cast upon him under the RTI Act.
In 2019, Singh had sought the following information from AICF with bifurcation as to the lawyer fees, travel expenditure, counseling fee and others:
(a) Year wise expenditure incurred by AICF in a case filed by them against the CCI’s order before the Madras High Court.
(b) Year wise expenditure incurred on defending the case before CCI in Delhi in case no. 79/2011, Hemant Sharma vs AICF.
(c) Total expenditure incurred by AICF till date in appeal filed before NCLAT, Delhi against CCI, and
(d) Total expenditure incurred in filing a case before the Madras High Court in a case filed by it against the CIC and others.
Some years back, the CCI had held that the conduct of AICF was in contravention of Section 4 of the Competition Act, 2002 and also imposed a penalty of Rs 6,92,350 under Section 27(b) of the Competition Act, 2002.
The AICF has gone on appeal against the CCI order at NCLAT.
Singh said the Indian Chess Federation would have spent several times over and above the fine of Rs. 6.92 lakh levied by the CCI. For arguing the case in CCI, the AICF lawyers came from Chennai.
"The AICF is spending players’ money in fighting legal cases. The cases are filed so that some people can retain their power. Actually, the AICF funds should be spent for players’ benefit like holding coaching camps," Singh said.
He also wondered as to the reason for AICF seeking adjournments at NCLAT.
(Venkatachari Jagannathan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)