BCCI’s Account Sports

Former CAG Vinod Rai rightly tightening the cricket administrator’s accounting system

By Veturi Srivatsa

Like a good accountant, Vinod Rai has said something the Rajendra Mal Lodha Committee should have in the first place instead of turning the entire cricket structure upside down.

Rai, the former Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India, says in the next four-five months a structured accounting format will put in place systems for the smooth functioning of the Indian cricket board, as the Supreme Court mentally pictured while appointing the Lodha Committee.

It is the accounting process that led to large scale corruption and even embezzlement in state associations, if not in the board, and that should have been addressed more than tinkering with other cricketing issues.

Vinod Rai, the head of the Supreme Court-appointed Committee of Administrators (CoA) to manage the country’s cricket affairs, said his committee would be there only till the Indian board elects its next managing committee democratically as outlined by the Lodha Committee and approved by the court.

The Lodha Committee had also said that it would pack up as soon as their recommendations were adopted and implemented by the board and its affiliated units.

With the board and state associations challenging the recommendations the arguments in the court carried on for over a year and eventually Lodha Committee recommended the appointment of administrators.

The Lodha Panel wanted a nine-member committee of administrators, the same number it suggested for the revamped apex committee of the board. But a new bench headed by Dipak Misra, after the one headed by now retired Chief Justice Tirath Singh, pruned it to four since it is only an interim arrangement.

In the last couple of days the erstwhile cricket administrators and the CoA have been on a collision course. A number of officials of the state associations have unfortunately decided to boycott the Pataudi Memorial Lecture and the annual awards function of the board on the last day of the ongoing second Test in Bangalore.

What triggered the latest confrontation is the email sent by board chief executive Rahul Johri, inviting state associations for the Lecture, to be delivered by former India wicketkeeper Farokh Engineer, and the awards function with a rider that only those office- bearers who are qualified as per the Supreme Court orders should attend the function.

The Karnataka State Cricket Association (KSCA) in its reply resented the postscript. The CEO, perhaps, could have avoided the para as it is humiliating, as KSCA pointed out for “the cricketing fraternity to accept the invitation with constraints and restrictions.” It is certainly insulting to all those people who served the game for long years whatever be their omissions and commissions.

The board as well as state associations have started questioning the CoA just as they did when the Lodha Committee tried to enforce the reforms.

All they needed to do was to send the names of their current office-bearers and members of the governing body/managing committee/working committee as may be the case just to make sure none of them is disqualified under the Lodha Panel guidelines.

The associations should have reverted by Wednesday, March 1. Barring Vidarbha and Tripura, the first associations to fall in line, some 30 state units are still defying raising legal and technical issues.

Finding no escape route, some officials resigned and some others ceased to function as they had been hanging on for more than the stipulated terms of office as prescribed by the Lodha Panel recommendations.

Most of these associations, which refused to respond to an earlier letter from the board’s CEO, might ignore the CoA directive, too.

Instead, the state associations maintained in their replies that CoA is going beyond its brief by issuing directives going beyond the court orders.

The associations in their replies used a template circulated to them after a meeting called by former board and International Cricket Council (ICC) chief Narayanaswamy Srinivasan.

The letter sought to remind the CoA that it is there primarily to ensure compliance of the “Court order of July 18, 2016 that does not affect the composition of the State Cricket Associations and the rights of members of the State Associations under Article 19 (1) (c) of the Constitution of India continues to remain protected.”

The state associations also have a point of contention with the COA on the tenure of the office bearers.

The Lodha Commmittee had recommended that a person can serve up to a combined nine years at both the board and state level, but the Court ruled that the nine-year terms are separate for the board and the state. Thus they can have 18 years as cricket administrators.

The CoA last week clarified that as per the advice it received the tenure cannot exceed a cumulative nine years at both the state and the board. But the associations want the court to clear the air when it takes up the issue later this month.

It is again going to be a long drawn out battle and will it end in four-five months as Rai feels is the question the Supreme Court will have to decide.

(Author is a senior journalist and opinions expressed above are completely personal)