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Saturday, May 30, 2020

Delhi HC declines to pass orders to curb DDCA ombudsman’s authority

The court also did not deal with the application seeking direction “for removal/replacement of the current Ombudsman”.

Written by Pritam Pal Singh | New Delhi | Updated: May 4, 2020 2:46:11 pm
New Delhi: DDCA secretary found guilty of indiscipline, misconduct The court declined to pass any order on a plea seeking to restrain ombudsman Justice (retired) Deepak Verma from exercising his authority in the Delhi cricket board’s affairs. (Representational Photo/BCCI)

The Delhi High Court has decided not to pass any interim order to either remove the DDCA ombudsman or curtail his authority regarding affairs of the state cricket unit or its members.

Hearing two applications filed by Sanjay Bhardwaj and the Delhi and District Cricket Association, Justice Asha Menon declined to pass any order on a plea seeking to restrain ombudsman Justice (retired) Deepak Verma from exercising his authority. The court also did not deal with the application seeking direction “for removal/replacement of the current Ombudsman”.

“As objections to the capacity of the applicant to move an application on behalf of the DDCA have been raised and it has not been possible to hear all the counsel for the parties on the said aspect, it is considered appropriate to grant an opportunity to all parties to file their responses to both the applications,” the order says.

“Let responses to the applications be filed through email by the non-applicants within a period of two weeks with advance copy to the counsel for the applicants, who may file rejoinders thereto, within one week thereafter with copies to the respective counsel for the non-applicants through their respective emails,” the May 1 order reads.

During hearing of the matter before Justice Menon, Senior Advocate Kapil Sibal submitted that as DDCA general secretary Vinod Tihara is currently in jail, the March 13 order passed by the High Court requires modification, as he is not in a position to sign any cheques.

However, the court observed that according to the March 13 order, “alternative S N Sharma has also been authorised to sign the cheques, no further directions need to be issued at this juncture.”

The March 13 order reads, “It is agreed between the parties that till the next date of hearing, DDCA be permitted to make payments apropos statutory liabilities, salaries of its employees, defray expenses for urgent needs such as travel and hotel expenses of the DDCA cricket team, selectors, coaches and support staff.”

Reform route

Meanwhile, the court also directed that the e-mail sent to the Registrar General of the High Court by DDCA Ombudsman Justice Verma be also placed on record.

Justice Verma has written to the court asking for the appointment of an administrator to run the conflict-ridden state unit, citing financial irregularities and wilful contempt of orders passed by him and the court.

In his letter to the High Court, the ombudsman has said the administrator, once appointed, would supersede the DDCA’s Apex Council. Members of the council and the ombudsman have been at loggerheads over the suspension of four officials and the status of the state cricket unit’s standing counsel.

READ | DDCA’s deal under scanner as ombudsman orders forensic audit

In March, Justice Verma ordered a forensic audit of the DDCA for the past five years, including balance sheets and all memorandum of understanding documents that have been signed, but stated that the agreement with MSL Jangid JV had to be scrunitised first.

The ombudsman has also issued instructions to stop the payment of Rs 34 lakh to the contractor as relevant documents were not produced, including a copy of the original agreement signed on December 10, 2019.

Two members of the Apex Council, one of whom is part of the infrastructure committee of the DDCA, had written to the ombudsman alleging fraud in the agreement with the contractor.

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