On the day the Supreme Court told BCCI to stop all payments to state associations, board secretary Ajay Shirke tells The Indian Express about the practical difficulties it faced in adopting all the recommendations of the Lodha committee. He also wants the Supreme Court to issue appropriate guidelines and directions so that the BCCI can overcome technical difficulties in adopting recommendations.
What do you make of today’s court proceedings?
We have the utmost respect for whatever the court has directed. We are not running away from reforms. The BCCI is not scared of reforms. At the same time, we have some legal difficulties in implementing the Lodha committee recommendations, which have to be explained before the court. We want the court to help us on this.
The Supreme Court has barred the BCCI from releasing funds to 12 state associations. Others, who have it, can’t use it either until they implement the Lodha reforms. Without the BCCI funds, can the state associations survive?
There are some associations that are not meeting the BCCI guidelines of audit, accounts, internal audits and forensic audit. We are not going to give them the money anyway. There’s no need of any court direction in that regard. As far as the other associations who are not in compliance (with Lodha recommendations), we will forward the directions of theSC order, will get the feedback from them, and will submit the documents.
Can you explain the legal difficulties?
The legal difficulties are that the committee has given the state associations one year (in its original report). Now suddenly, they have made it deadline-bound. Has the one-year deadline been withdrawn by the SC? We don’t know. It hasn’t been informed. Now, today’s order of the Supreme Court says, as we didn’t submit the affidavit, they had to stop the money. In light of all this, there’s confusion. If you see the directives of the Lodha committee, if you see the directives of the court, if you see the judgments of the court – there’s confusion. There’s disparity in what the committee is saying and what the court is saying. And the committee is not a court. So, the court has to guide us on how we can overcome the legal difficulties. I repeat, we are not averse to reforms. But the committee is giving the type of directives which are creating legal impediments. Whereas the committee is not a court, the court only can give us the final order. As per our understanding, the court has appointed the committee only to oversee the timeline. The SC had also observed that this was a very complex issue which needed time. That time hasn’t finished yet. That’s finishing on January 18.
The ban is solely on the disbursement of the Champions League T20 cancellation funds or the BCCI is barred from giving regular grants to state associations?
I haven’t seen the copy of the order yet. But we need clarity on this. The Supreme Court has very kindly and very correctly said ‘we will hear the BCCI’s plea on October 17’. The committee is creating a lot of problems between the court and us.
Can you explain?
The committee told us to call a general body meeting and said that ‘you ask them to formally adopt its constitution’. Exactly as directed by the committee, we called the members’ meeting, where I proposed that the new memorandum should be adopted in totality. It was seconded by our president Anurag Thakur. But the members rejected it; what can we do? So rather than the committee saying that ‘you (Supreme Court) remove these people…they are useless,’ which is creating a lot of animosity, they should appreciate the difficulties that we are having. Instead of the committee trying to take a neutral position, they seem like possessed; that by hook or crook, you do this. And they are not a judicial body. So what they have effectively done is that they have created a misunderstanding between the court and the BCCI. The Supreme Court is the ultimate protector of law. The committee should understand this. They told us to call the meeting and have the new memorandum adopted. We called the meeting. The members rejected it. We are registered under the Societies Act; we require three-fourth majority. And we cannot get a single member to vote for it. All refused. What do I do? Do I lock up the room! The report they are giving (to the apex court) that ‘you sack the secretary, you sack office-bearers’… What can the office-bearers do?
What would be your submission before the Supreme Court on October 17?
We are explaining the pure technical difficulties and seeking appropriate guidelines and directions from the Supreme Court. But the committee is creating a misunderstanding between the Supreme Court and the BCCI. If our members approve the new memorandum by a three-fourth majority, we have no problem. The Supreme Court committee is distinguished and we have the highest respect for them. Why don’t they tell us how to do it? If the intention of the committee is to get the reforms implemented, they also have to guide us about how to do it. Tomorrow, if I pass the resolution without the majority, then any citizen can file a case against us, that this is an illegal amendment. The committee also knows that this cannot be done but they are putting the blame on the BCCI office-bearers, thereby creating the misunderstanding.
How much money came from the cancellation of Champions League T20?
Rs 2,700 crore. Then we had to pay Cricket South Africa and Cricket Australia – other stakeholders – and only our members’ money we kept back, because Shashank (Manohar, then BCCI president) said forensic audit had to be done. The amount had accrued about Rs100-120 crore in interest. Now after completing everything, what was the harm in distributing it to the members? It’s their money. If the CL T20 hadn’t been cancelled, we would have gotten that money anyway on a yearly basis. The BCCI fought on behalf of all stakeholders and got a hefty compensation from Star, when they decided to do away with the tournament. As for the BCCI members, those who submitted the invoices, we gave them their dues.
VCA wasn’t given its dues despite submitting the invoice.
They sent an invoice for a higher amount; Rs 28 crore. And there’s another issue with the VCA. They are not allowing (some) media members to attend matches.
But what about the rogue associations?
They are not going to get it anyway. They are not getting their regular dues. J & K Cricket Association and Goa Cricket Association are only getting piecemeal payments for running their day-to-day cricket, and that too after a proper check. Wherever the associations are not compliant, we are not paying anything – DDCA, Rajasthan, Goa and J&K. Even Assam; we have stopped (payment), because they didn’t pay the service tax. We got it cleared. We paid the service tax directly to the government. And Assam is now falling in line.