CoA accuses Srinivasan, Shah of trying to stall Lodha reforms

In its fourth report to the Supreme Court, the Committee of Administrators details the “manifestly disruptive” atmosphere of the Special General Meeting held on June 26.

"Disqualified" office-bearers N. Srinivasan (left) and Niranjan Shah attended the Special General Meeting of the BCCI.   -  Vivek Bendre

Armed with audio recordings, the Supreme Court-appointed Committee of Administrators (CoA) led by former Comptroller and Auditor General Vinod Rai launched a no-holds-barred attack on former BCCI president N. Srinivasan and Saurashtra Cricket Association representative Niranjan Shah, accusing them using their influence over State cricket associations to stall reform in Indian cricket.

In its fourth report to the Supreme Court, the CoA details the “manifestly disruptive” atmosphere of the Special General Meeting (SGM) held on June 26. On the agenda were issues like the revised text of the BCCI constitution, the new Conflict of Interest Rules, appointment of Ombudsman, the new funds disbursal policy and discussion on the core principles and policies in tune with the Justice Lodha Committee reforms endorsed by the Supreme Court.

The CoA said substantial consensus was reached among the Board members prior to the SGM, but the presence of “disqualified” officebearers of the BCCI like Mr. Srinivasan and Mr. Shah turned the cart and hardly any headway was made. Mr. Srinivasan was present as the chosen representative of the Tamil Nadu Cricket Association and Mr. Shah was nominated by the Saurashtra body.

The CoA complained that the very fact that State and member associations are able to appoint persons disqualified by the Supreme Court itself is a violation of the true intention and spirit of the court's orders for transparency in cricket.

‘Abhorrent behaviour’

The ability of these disqualified persons to find a place in the SGM as representatives of member associations ensures that “they are effectively able to do indirectly what they have been prohibited by the Supreme Court from doing directly”. Terming the conduct of the BCCI members as “abhorrent behaviour”, the report mentions how Mr. Shah was even included as an “invitee” to a Special Committee in the June 26 SGM meeting.

“From an audio recording of the SGM, it appears that such disqualified persons were able to effectively hijack proceedings at the SGM by prevailing upon other attendees (who may have been otherwise willing to facilitate the reform process) to either support the cause of such disqualified persons or remain silent,” the CoA report pointed out.

The report asked the court to pass orders to “injunct” these disqualified persons from “interfering with the functioning of the CoA”.

The report suggested that these disqualified persons would want to stall reforms because accepting changes now, after opposing the Lodha Committee for over a year, would mean that the removal of Anurag Thakur and Ajay Shirke, who were removed as BCCI president and secretary, respectively, by the Supreme Court, was fully justified.

‘Mute spectator’

While CoA described BCCI Joint Secretary Amitabh Choudhary as one of the few people who tried to encourage attendees to accept reforms, the report mentions how BCCI treasurer Anirudh Chaudhry “remained a mute spectator, lacking the courage or conviction to speak in favour of implementation of reforms”.

The report said the intransigence of the members is apparent from their refusal to follow the existing BCCI constitution and addressal of conflict of interest issues.

The report asked the court to direct the State associations to amend their constitutions in line with the Justice Lodha reforms on or before December 31, 2017. The report recommended the court to set up a committee headed by a former Deputy CAG to commission a forensic audit in respect of State and member associations whose due diligence reports indicates misfeasance and appropriate action be taken against them.

The report asked the court to empower the CoA to finalise the new BCCI constitution so that it would be formally adopted by the time of elections due in September 2017.

The report also suggested three names – Anshuman Gaikwad, Kapil Dev and Bharat Reddy – to be included in the Steering Committee led by former Home Secretary G. K. Pillai to establish the Cricket Players’ Association. The CoA also informed the court about the need to fill its own vacancies following the decision of cricket historian Ramachandra Guha to resign from the CoA and another member, Vikram Limaye, for discharge.

The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear the case on July 14.

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