Ahead of Thursday’s Supreme Court hearing on the absolute implementation of the Lodha Committee recommendations, the BCCI secretary Ajay Shirke has a written a letter to the panel secretary Gopal Sankaranarayanan, saying that the decision of the cricket board’s bankers to freeze the accounts was the based on the Committee’s email. In another letter sent to all BCCI members, president Anurag Thakur pointed out inconsistencies and “flip-flop” in some Lodha Committee decisions.
The Indian Express is in possession of both the letters and Shirke’s missive says: “The decision of the banks to debit freeze the operative accounts of the BCCI is their (banks’) decision, and is based on the copies of your email referred to herein to us, and cc’d to them. We have no control on what banks, who are independent institutions, decide in their own wisdom. One cannot, however, ignore the fact that pursuant to your email to us cc’d to them they took whatever decisions they had to. And it was not a solitary bank but two banks who took an identical decision. How one interprets the ensuing media frenzy clearly depends on which side of the fence one sits.”
The letter denies that the BCCI has distorted facts and misled anyone. “In no case, however, can anyone say that freezing the bank accounts was BCCI’s decision. Consequently, the question of BCCI distorting anything does not arise in any case whatsoever; and whatever the banks had to do they did in response to a directive from you.”
On Tuesday, the Bank of Maharashtra and Yes Bank – the BCCI’s bankers – froze the cricket board’s bank accounts and the board officials subsequently hinted at cancelling the ongoing series between India and New Zealand. The accounts were de-froze following instructions from the Lodha Committee, which clarified that it never stopped the BCCI from conducting “banking operations/payments relating to routine administration” and only prevented it to “disburse large funds to the various Member Associations”, a decision regarding which was taken the cricket board’s “Emergent Working Committee meeting”.
The Lodha Committee had earlier restricted the BCCI’s AGM to matters related only to the past year 2015-16.
Thakur’s letter to the members described the sequence of events. “On 3.10.16 the committee sent an email to the BCCI and marked to banks ‘As the status report is to be taken up for directions by the Hon’ble Court on Thursday, 6.10.2016, you are hereby directed not to take any steps towards financial disbursement of the amounts as resolved/approved after the direction dated 31.8.2016’.”
Thakur said that because of this the banks stopped “banking transactions” and there would have been a “great possibility of the series against New Zealand being cancelled”.
The BCCI president added that the Committee unfroze the accounts with specific guidelines on “routine payments”.
The cricket board chief also alleged inconsistency in the Lodha Committee directives. “The Lodha Committee on 9.8.16 issued a guideline that there should be a 15-day gap between IPL and Champions Trophy. When there was a possibility of one of the games getting cancelled, the Commission clarified that as this was a prior decision and the Supreme Court judgment came later, it will not get affected by the decision of the Committee. “However, the Committee has chosen to apply the judgment retrospectively to the question of tenure of office-bearers of the BCCI. I fail to understand how can there be any pick and choose.”