Kerala Cricket Association is not a public body for the purposes of Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988

Kerala High
Court: The single Judge bench of A. Muhamed
Mustaque, J., while dealing with the question that whether officials of Kerala Cricket
Association (KCA) discharge any public duty and, could be treated as ‘public
servant’ for the purposes of Prevention of Corruption Act (hereinafter referred
to as PC Act), 1988, upheld the challenge to the registration of FIR and
investigation against officials of KCA against allegations of corruption in the
construction of a cricket stadium.  The
Court relied upon the judgments of the Supreme Court in Zee Telefilms Ltd. v. Union
of India, (2005) 4 SCC 649 and BCCI v. Cricket Association of Bihar,  (2015) 3 SCC 251, and ascertained that KCA
could not be considered as a State or a public body.

In the present case, the petitioner was accused of indulging in
corruption over purchasing of land for the construction of a stadium. Dushyant
Dave, counsel for the petitioners argued that in view of the judgment of the
Supreme Court in Zee Telefilms Case, duty discharged by the officials of
KCA could not be construed as ‘public duty’ and the officials could not be
treated as ‘public servant’. It was also argued that a conjoint reading of
‘public duty’ and ‘public servant’ under PC Act would reveal that an office
bearer of a private body could not be brought within the fold of ‘public
servant’ under the PC Act. However, S. Sreekumar, counsel for the respondents
contested the interpretation by placing reliance upon K. Balaji Iyengar
v. State of Kerala, 2010 SCC OnLine Ker 4969,  where it was held that KCA is discharging a
State function and the SLP challenging the same was
dismissed by the Supreme Court.

Adopting both structural and functional approach
to decide whether KCA was performing a ‘public function’ under ‘public duty’,
the Court after analyzing a number of judicial dictums and examining the  concepts of ‘sovereign function’, ‘State
function’, ‘public function’ and ‘public duty’, came to the conclusion that,
since the construction of the stadium was not in discharge of any obligation
under positive law, it could only be considered as a State function and is not a
discharge of any public duty. Observing that only when construction of the
stadium would be complete, there would be a public element involved and not
before, the complaint was not maintainable and accordingly the writ petitions
were allowed. [Karthikeya Verma v. Union of India, decided on 15.07. 2015]

Source: Legal news India