Noting that the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has done nothing to develop cricket on an equal basis across the country, the Supreme Court on Tuesday said cricket bosses have transformed the board into a "mutual benefit society" which disburses huge amounts to choice members without even bothering to ask how they spend it.
A Special Bench of Chief Justice of India T. S. Thakur and Justice F. M. I. Kalifulla asked whether the 'no-questions-asked' policy of the BCCI was a ploy to buy votes and surreptitiously influence voting patterns in a certain way.
"You function like 'show me the face; I will make the payment'... Impression that one gets is that you are practically corrupting the persons by not demanding how the money is spent... it's like the moment you want a vote and their hands will go up," Chief Justice Thakur remarked.
The Bench said records of payments made to certain member-States like Gujarat, Goa and Tripura are several fold higher to some 11 other States likes Bihar and Chhattisgarh which go around with a "begging bowl".
'Should your sytem of disburse not be perfect?'
"Eleven go begging for assistance. These 11 go without a penny. Huge amounts like Rs. 572 crore is distributed every year. Next year it may be over Rs. 1000 crore. Should your system of disburse not be perfect?" Chief Justice Thakur asked senior advocate K. K. Venugopal, appearing for BCCI.
The Bench asked why Gujarat got over Rs. 60 crore from BCCI in its capacity as a full member with voting rights, while Bihar did not.
The BCCI countered that Bihar, an associate member, had refused to submit its accounts and funds are released to members depending on their cricketing activity.
But Chief Justice Thakur persisted to ask then why Goa with hardly a population of 10 lakh was getting Rs. 57 crore while Bihar is not.
Looking at the list of states BCCI spends money on, Chief Justice Thakur observed: "Eleven States here have zeros against their names. Goa gets Rs. 60 crore while Chhattisgarh gets Rs. 1.47 crore... you see your whole mandate is to promote the game all over the country. The passion for the game is spread across the country."
The Bench then asked why Railway Sports Promotion Board, a full member, does not get anything.
When BCCI said they don't have an international stadium, Chief Justice Thakur asked why Tripura with a 25-lakh population gets Rs. 60 crore even before an international stadium has been constructed.
'Lodha committee is not an ordinary one'
The court was hearing objections raised by the BCCI to several recommendations made by the Supreme Court-appointed committee led by former Chief Justice of India R. M. Lodha to overhaul BCCI functioning and bring transparency into Indian cricket administration.
"This committee is not an ordinary one peopled by government officials for you to complain about. A former CJI headed the committee and we repose faith in their findings which are a result of extensive deliberations with a broad spectrum of people spread through a year," Chief Justice Thakur said.
Later in the hearing, senior advocate Ashok Desai for Punjab Cricket Association objected to how implementation of the Justice Lodha Committee report would fundamentally change their rules.
"Justice Lodha Committee does not change any rules. It does not say that there should be seven balls in an over. It only recommends change in the persons managing cricket administration," Chief Justice Thakur said.
The court posted the hearing for Friday.
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