A comprehensive list of 82 probing questions were sent to top Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) officials as the Supreme Court-appointed three-member panel got down to achieving its objectives of taking action against those found guilty in the IPL probe. This panel also has the task of advising structural changes to the board to help clean up the conflict of interest conundrum within cricket’s governing body.
In the aftermath of the spot-fixing scandal of 2013, the apex court bench of Justices TS Thakur and FMI Kalifulla had set up a three-member panel headed by former Chief Justice of India RM Lodha and also including former Supreme Court judges Justices Ashok Bhan and R V Raveendran. The panel had been asked to make recommendations for amendments to the over all functioning of cricket’s governing body — from memorandums of association, constitution to rules and regulations of the BCCI, and to rejig the manner in which the board had been managing its affairs while discharging its cricketing functions.
The panel had drawn up an exhaustive questionnaire subjecting the BCCI to scrutiny and top-ranking board officials were asked to furnish answers detailing the current functioning of the board. The Lodha panel met former and current BCCI office-bearers and employees of the board in Mumbai last week and asked them a series of questions which they were expected to answer.
BCCI president Jagmohan Dalmiya and secretary Anurag Thakur are also expected to meet the panel in coming days to answer the questions.
The committee had asked BCCI what the basis for zonal rotation of the President was, while wondering if it wouldn’t be appropriate to have open elections for the posts. “Can a candidate contest from a Zone/region to which he does not belong?” was another poser. BCCI had made the amendment to its constitution a few years ago where any BCCI member could contest from any zone but the candidate had to get a proposer and a seconder. The move was carried out to accommodate Union Finance minister Arun Jaitley back then.
The conflict of interest became a major point of contention during former board president N Srinivasan’s hearing in the Supreme Court and the apex court had quashed Rule 6.2.4 which allowed BCCI administrators to hold commercial stakes in events.
Taking it forward, one of the questions demands to know that when a player/team official of an IPL team is the employee of the franchisee/owner of another team, did the BCCI perceive a Conflict of Interest. And what steps were taken to prevent such situations?
Indian captain MS Dhoni is an employee of India Cements and is also captain of the Indian team. India Cements was than chaired by former BCCI chief N Srinivasan. When Dhoni joined India Cements it had raised eyebrows. The committee also wanted to know, what steps had been taken by BCCI/IPL and the constituents to ensure that there was no conflict of interest between those who governed each of these entities and those who were involved in their professional management. “What sanctions have been laid down for suppressing information regarding the above?” the questionnaire asks.
It had also asked, if steps had been taken to ensure that Board/IPL representatives did not have relatives / associates selected for garnering franchisee contracts.
Another point of scrutiny was BCCI’s appointment of its tour managers in what is essentially an exercise to make associations happy for their support to BCCI bosses. The Lodha committee had asked board members on what basis Tour Managers and Technical crew for the teams were selected.
“Are there tests and interviews? Are these advertised? What is the remuneration for these and do these engagements have tenures or are they open-ended?”
At the same time the committee also wanted to know if either the BCCI or the IPL had a whistleblower immunity policy? And whether BCCI checked whether the amount of money given to each association was properly utilised and where the money was being spent.
Key questions asked by the Justice Lodha committee
* What is the basis for zonal rotation of the President? Would it not be appropriate to have open elections for the posts? Can a candidate contest from a Zone/region to which he does not belong?
* Is there representation of players /coaches/umpires on the BCCI/IPL/Constituent boards and Committees? How many representatives of women and the differently-abled are on the Board?
* What measures exist to avoid monopolies in the affairs of BCCI?
* On what basis are Tour Managers and Technical crew for the teams selected? Are there tests and interviews? Are these advertised? What is the remuneration for these and do these engagements have tenures or are they open-ended?
* Does either the BCCI or the IPL have a whistleblower / immunity policy?
* What norms are in place for regulation/licensing of player agents and representatives in India? If a licensing mechanism exists, what qualifications must a person have to become a player agent and what training must he/she undergo?
* When a player/team official of an IPL team is the employee of the franchisee / owner of another team, does BCCI perceive a Conflict of Interest? What steps are taken prevent such situations?
* What steps have been taken by BCCI / IPL and the constituents to ensure that there is no conflict of interest between those who govern each of these entities and those are involved in their professional management? What sanctions have been laid down for suppressing information regarding the above?
* Have steps have been taken to ensure there are no conflict of interest issues and that Board/IPL representatives do not have relatives / associates selected for garnering these contracts?