BCCI uses court orders to suit itself, says Qaiser Mohammad Ali
During the seemingly unending IPL fixing probe in the last one year, one of the most noticeable things observed by experts is that BCCI officials have interpreted court orders/observations with impunity to suit themselves.Depending on which side of the fence they are, officials – like seasoned law experts – have been repeatedly explaining the “real” meaning of the many courts orders/observations made ever since the 2013 IPL betting-fixing scandal broke out with the arrest of Sreesanth and a few other players on May 16 last year.BCCI secretary Sanjay Patel has stated that the AGM cannot be convened without a BCCI president.Some of these officials have gone on-record giving interpretations, at the risk of being pulled up by judges, which fortunately hasn’t happened so far. Judges might have observed these interpretations appearing in the media, but if they haven’t passed any strictures it’s probably because there are other, far more important cases to handle than the increasing and endless sports related litigation.Not just the court orders, but Board officials have also been taking pains to explain what the BCCI constitution says in different situations, knowing full well that the sacred booklet containing rules and regulations is not available in public domain. Take for example, the case of the move to postpone the BCCI AGM on the pretext that the elected president, N. Srinivasan, can’t sign the balance sheet and accounts, as the Supreme Court has barred him from Board affairs for being one of the 13 persons being probed in the IPL scandal. While barring Srinivasan, a Supreme Court bench comprising Justices AK Patnaik and FMI Kalifulla made it abundantly clear in its order of March 28 that the interim BCCI president Shivlal Yadav will have all powers of an elected president.advertisement”We make it clear that with regard to all other matters of BCCI, the senior most vice president of the BCCI, Mr. Shivlal Yadav, will discharge the functions of the president of the BCCI,” the bench had said. Moreover, the learned judges seem to have strictly and properly gone by the BCCI constitution while giving charge to former India player Yadav till the Mukul Mudgal Committee probe continues.Even Justice TS Thakur, who replaced Patnaik after his retirement in June, reiterated on July 18 that Yadav “will continue to exercise the powers of the president of the BCCI as per our order dated 28th March, 2014”.However, BCCI secretary Sanjay Patel has his own interpretation. On Sunday, after an informal meeting of Srinivasan’s loyalists in Chennai, he quite audaciously announced: “Currently, there is no president in the BCCI. Mr Srinivasan has stepped aside from handling the Board’s day-to-day affairs as per the directives of the Supreme Court. The president has to sign the balance sheet before the meeting [AGM] gets underway and, currently, there’s nobody to do that.How can we convene the AGM?” If the Supreme Court decides to take cognisance of Patel’s comments and points to ‘Rule 13: Powers and Duties of Office-bearers’ in the BCCI constitution that clearly gives the secretary the power to convene the AGM, it could cause much embarrassment to him.So far the signing of the accounts and the balance sheet is concerned, Yadav, a staunch Srinivasan supporter, can do the needful, if he feels like, conforming to the Supreme Court orders. Even though there is no mention of ‘interim president’ in the constitution, the bigger question is: Can any law institution be bigger than the Supreme Court? So, why not obey its orders?”Clearly, the court has relied on the BCCI constitution while appointing Shivlal,” said Maharashtra Cricket Association president Ajay Shirke. On the various analysis of court orders by BCCI officials, former Board treasurer Shirke told MAIL TODAY: “It’s all interpretation by convenience – a classic case.”And when officials don’t find a clause in the rulebook that suits them, they tell you that the rules are “silent” on such and such issues. It then becomes easier for them to interpret the rules. All this shows that the BCCI constitution – often quoted but never seen – is perhaps the most abused set of rules and regulations in Indian sports.Not just the BCCI, but almost all Indian sports federations haven’t put up their constitutions on their websites. And this is one of the biggest undoing of Indian sport. Is anyone listening?EXPOSES HARMING SPORTSA NEW, but disturbing, trend has started in India sports. Some of the national federations have started sharing with the media their correspondence with the government.advertisementThere is a sudden surge in the number of letters that have been written using poor language. This trend doesn’t augur well for Indian sports, which is hardly in the pink of health, barring a few medal-winning disciplines like shooting, wrestling and boxing.In some of the cases being fought via the media, the offensive is thankfully from one side only, with the other side avoiding tit-for-tat. Imagine the day when both warring parties start firing at each other. Since India, anyway, has a long way to go in becoming a force to reckon with in sports, everyone will be better off without resorting to such tactics.SOCCER STAR MOVES INTO HYDERABAD CRICKETIN THE Arshad Ayub-led panel that swept the biennial election of the Hyderabad Cricket Association (HCA), held in Hyderabad on Sunday, there was an unusual winner – Victor Amalraj, a former India football international. The 50-year-old footballer, who captained the ‘Big Three’ of Kolkata football, East Bengal, Mohammedan Sporting and Mohan Bagan, has been associated with the Food Corporation of India (FCI) cricket team that competes in the Hyderabad league. This is the first time that he has become part of the HCA set-up.”I was encouraged by Arshad and Shivlal Yadav to contest the election this time. Shivlal and I were together in school,” Amalraj, Assistant General Manager (PR) with FCI, told MAIL TODAY. “It’s a huge responsibility. The Hyderabad Ranji team didn’t perform well in the last two years. So, we will have to ensure that it improves its performance this season.”ARMY BEST BET TO CUT RED TAPESome years ago, after yet another disastrous Indian performance at a multisport competition, an idea was mooted that the Army should be given the reins of administering sports. That idea ought to be implemented now as it is perhaps more relevant now than it was when it was floated, maybe as a knee-jerk reaction to another flop show.One recalled the idea, as currently red tape has been wrapped around the Asian Games files so tightly, that the concept of clarity has been deleted from the files being shunted between the sports ministry and the Sports Authority of India (SAI). These files pertain to the Indian contingent that would go to Incheon, South Korea, starting on September 19.With litigation in Indian sports on the rise – a spate of court cases are on in virtually all major federations – India urgently needs tough rules and tougher people to implement them. Just think of it, the Indian men’s and women’s football teams are stranded in China, where they had gone on an exposure trip, and here the government/administrators cannot make up their minds on whether they should be competing or not.Or, are they deliberately delaying a decision due to some reason? If that is not the case, it’s all the more reason that officials/babus to think of the country first and either clear the contingent as quickly as possible. They must realise that India has once again become the laughing stock globally.advertisementFor bureaucratic delays such as these, it is the urgent need to bring in the Army to manage Indian sports. That seems our last hope to instill discipline and fear in the minds sports administrators/bureaucrats who handle sports files, beside athletes.