The BCCI’s method of distributing funds to member state associations came in for scathing criticism from the Supreme Court © PTI
India’s Supreme Court has heavily criticised the BCCI’s method of disbursing funds to state associations saying it was being done without any particular mechanism. In a brief hearing related to the implementation of the Lodha panel recommendations that lasted less than 90 minutes, the court also turned down the BCCI’s request to review the ‘one state one vote’ recommendation made by the Lodha panel in January this year. The next date of hearing has been set for April 8.
In the previous hearing held on March 3, the two-judge bench of the court comprising Chief Justice TS Thakur and Justice Ibrahim Kalifulla had asked the BCCI and state associations to submit audited accounts of expenses incurred over the past five years through separate affidavits. Giving his opinion on the BCCI’s disbursement of funds, Chief Justice Thakur reportedly stated the board was “practically corrupting persons by not demanding how the money is spent”.
“You function like show me the face; I will make the payment… [The] Impression that one gets is that you are practically corrupting the persons by not demanding how the money is spent… [It’s] like the moment you want a vote and their hands will go up,” Justice TS Thakur was quoted as saying by the Hindu.
After reading the BCCI affidavit on distribution of funds, the court asked the board counsel, KK Venugopal, why 11 states had not received any funds in the last five years. Venugopal explained that some states do not have any cricketing infrastructure. However, Nalini Chidambaram, arguing on behalf of the Cricket Association of Bihar who is the original petitioner, said that the BCCI was doing nothing to develop cricket in the smaller states, like those in the north-eastern region of India. “It is a vicious circle. They don’t give funds therefore there is no cricketing activity,” Chidambaram said. The court upheld that argument and asked Venugopal why the eleven states had to “go begging” to the board for funds.
“Eleven go begging for assistance. These 11 go without a penny. Huge amounts like Rs. 572 crore are distributed every year. Next year it may be over Rs. 1000 crore. Should your system of disbursement not be perfect?” Chief Justice Thakur asked Venugopal.
The court then asked why a state like Gujarat was getting Rs 60 crore while Bihar did not get any funds. Venugopal said Bihar had not submitted its accounts and hence the BCCI had stopped funds to its associate member. The court was curious about why a smaller state like Goa had received close to Rs 60 crore in the last five years.
“Eleven states here have zeros against their names. Goa gets Rs. 57 crore while Chhattisgarh gets Rs. 1.47 crore. You see your whole mandate is to promote the game all over the country. The passion for the game is spread across the country,” Chief Justice Thakur pointed out.
He also asked why the Railway Sports Promotion Board, which has the voting rights, did not receive any funds. When Venugopal explained that the RSPB did not have an international stadium, the court asked how Tripura, which had no international stadium, deserved to get Rs 60 crore as listed by the BCCI.
Tasked by the Supreme Court to provide recommendations on changes to the BCCI’s constitution and manner of functioning, the Lodha panel had submitted its report in January 2016 and had proposed sweeping changes. The court then directed the BCCI to respond to the report and in March, the board expressed its reservations on various recommendations made by the panel. One of the recommendations that the BCCI is opposing is the ‘one state, one vote’ proposal, which suggests that one association from a state should be given a vote.
The court reminded the BCCI that the Lodha committee is not an ordinary panel. Chief Justice Thakur explained that the court had not constituted a committee of government secretaries or any other officials. Instead the committee comprised a former Chief Justice of India (RM Lodha) and two former Supreme Court judges (Ashok Bhan and RV Raveendran) who had had extensive discussions and deliberations before arriving at the final recommendations.
“This committee is not an ordinary one peopled by government officials for you to complain about. A former CJI headed the committee and we repose faith in their findings which are a result of extensive deliberations with a broad spectrum of people spread through a year,” Chief Justice Thakur said.
Nagraj Gollapudi is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo
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Source: ESPN Crickinfo