Former Indian team captain Bishan Singh Bedi and ex-cricketer Kirti Azad on Thursday batted in the Supreme Court for implementation of Justice R M Lodha committee recommendations on structural reforms in BCCI.
They also targeted for alleged irregularities the Delhi and District Cricket Association (DDCA) which was headed by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley for 14 years till 2013.
“All is not well in DDCA and BCCI. There are serious difficulties which are affecting the functioning of these cricket bodies. Therefore reforms suggested by Justice R M Lodha-led committee should be implemented,” advocate Manish Tiwari told a bench comprising Chief Justice T S Thakur and Justice F M I Kalifulla.
Jaitley was the DDCA President from December 1999 to December 2013.
Tiwari appearing for Bedi, Azad and former cricketer Sameer Bahadur, said that there were several reports against the functioning of DDCA including that of Serious Fraud Investigation Office (SFIO), fact-finding committee and Justice Mukul Mudgal, which have pointed out to the deficiencies and irregularities in the affairs of managing the cricket matches.
“Justice Mukul Mudgal, who is former Chief Justice of Punjab and Haryana High Court, was appointed observer for the India-South Africa match in his report had said that the internal audit of DDCA pointed out shortcomings and financial irregularities,” he said.
Tiwari, also a Congress leader appearing for Azad who has been expelled from BJP, said the trigger point for the Justice Lodha panel was the match-fixing and spot-fixing scandal and BCCI can’t say that it is not amenable to rule of law.
“Monopoly and irregularities have perpetuated over the period of time in the functioning of BCCI and it needs to function in a manner by which the trust of people in the game of cricket is restored,” Tiwari said.
He further contended that country has over a billion population and if the system is opened up as recommended by Lodha panel then BCCI can get more capable and efficient cricket administrators.
Tiwari alleged that there is no transparency in the elections to the cricket bodies including DDCA due to the proxy voting and said, “cricket in national capital is in a sorry state.”
Tiwari further supported the one state-one vote recommendations of Lodha panel and said every state will get equal participation in decision making.
“They say cricketing activity and stadium is criteria to become full members of BCCI but Chandigarh despite having a stadium is not a member but on the other hand Haryana which doesn’t have a stadium is a full member,” he said.
He suggested the states which have more than one cricket associations should have their votes in BCCI fractioned and they should represent as one state and not three or four as is the case in Gujarat and Maharashtra respectively.
Supporting the recommendations of CAG nominee in board of cricket associations, Tiwari said it a constitutional body and its expenditure are met from the consolidated funds.
“The argument that it will amount to government’s interference in affairs of cricket associations is unfounded as CAG does not come under any administrative ministry.
“They can have ministers and politicians in their boards but they have objections to CAG nominee in it. DDCA have parliamentarians on board,” he said.
Another former cricketer Hemant Angle, also a member of Goa Cricket Association, alleged irregularities and said the funds given by BCCI were misused by the cricket body.
“The Lodha committee recommendations should be implemente in BCCI, which will help in bringing transparency. Over Rs 100 crore were given by BCCI to cricket body but no one knows where it went,” the counsel appearing for the former cricketer said.
The court was hearing arguments on a batch of petitions challenging recommendations of the Lodha panel for reforming the Indian cricket board.
The apex court had constituted the Lodha panel after Cricket Association of Bihar (CAB), through its secretary Aditya Kumar Verma, had filed a petition alleging large scale irregularities in BCCI and later the IPL spot fixing scandal had grabbed the headlines in 2013.
Advocate Vikas Mehta appearing for CAB, said BCCI has acted arbitrarily in recognising the Bihar Cricket Association (BCA) headed by RJD leader Abdul Bari Siddiqui, as an associate member of the BCCI, when there has been tussle between four such cricket associations, including one in which Azad, who is a Lok Sabha MP from Darbhanga was associated.
Mehta said as per the recommendations of the Lodha panel, in case there is a dispute between cricket associations for membership of the BCCI, an ombudsman will decide the issue and hence the recommendations for structural reforms in apex cricket body should be implemented.
The bench noted that there were four cricket associations which include Association of Bihar Cricket (ABC) with which Azad was associated, CAB, BCA and Bihar Cricket Players Association.
It asked the counsel for CAB, “Does the ombudsman have the power to decide the claim of different associations from a state for membership.”
Mehta said the recommendations of Lodha panel has said whenever there is a dispute between different cricket associations over claim for membership then ombudsman will decide.