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 India2015 SCC OnLine Ker 14875decided on 15.07. 2015

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