The Delhi and District Cricket Association (DDCA) has said it cannot implement certain Supreme Court-mandated Lodha Committee-recommended reforms, and has sought various concessions, particularly with regard to the constitution of its apex council. It has also explicitly told the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) that retirement of one-third of all its directors at every AGM “is neither feasible nor advisable” as it would lead to “a situation of uncertainty and instability”.
DDCA president Rajat Sharma has written this, besides seeking some other relaxations/concessions, in a letter to the Supreme Court-appointed Committee of Administrators (CoA), the body that is currently governing the BCCI. The DDCA, however, has accepted some of the eight changes that the CoA has asked it to make in its amended new constitution to fully comply and implement the reforms.
The DDCA had officially announced on September 20 last year that it had amended its constitution to comply with the SC-approved reforms. But, as it turns out, it is still not fully compliant and doesn’t satisfy the CoA. The BCCI has placed the DDCA in Category C, which comprises state associations that are ‘substantially complaint’ and need “to further amend their respective constitutions to carry out such corrective amendments as are communicated to them by the CoA”.
In the same email of November 3, accessed by Outlook, Rajat Sharma has also informed the BCCI that for the changes still required in the constitution of the DDCA, a company, the association has written to “appropriate government department” seeking certain “relaxation” regarding the two-year term of the three government-nominated directors (expiring in February 2020). The Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs, the sports ministry, and the Sports Authority of India nominated these directors, including former cricketer Gautam Gambhir, for a two-year in February 2018.
The DDCA has asked the BCCI to let its three government-nominated directors to complete their term – an issue that stands in the way of the association’s full compliance. The DDCA, a company under Section 8 of 2013 Companies Act, has also informed the BCCI that the government nominated the three directors on its executive committee/apex council in lieu of a long-term leased land, provided by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs, on which its stadium, the Ferozeshah Kotla, is built.
“One of the conditions for grant of lease/land for stadium is that the DDCA will have three Directors nominated by the Central government of India on its managing committee (now apex council). Thus, DDCA cannot do away with the three government nominee directors without leave from the government of India,” wrote Rajat Sharma to CoA on November 26, 2018. He emphasised: “It [DDCA] is bound to adhere to its licence conditions.”
The DDCA president further pointed out in his letter that DDCA used to have 27 directors, 11 of whom used to retire by rotation. The number has now been reduced to 16, including three government-nominated directors and a representative of the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG), as required by the Lodha recommendations accepted by the Supreme Court. Sharma informs that the Delhi High Court, in a case with South Delhi Municipal Corporation, had allowed the DDCA to retain three government directors to meet the conditional land lease of the Kotla stadium.
“As far as the issue of three government nominee directors is concerned, after receiving the BCCI’s email under reply [November 27, 2018] the DDCA has taken up this matter with the appropriate government department seeking a relaxation of this condition. As soon as a reply is received [from] the government, the DDCA will act upon the same, under intimation to the BCCI,” Sharma wrote to CoA.
A screenshot of the executive committee members' page on the Delhi and District Cricket Association website. Photos of only five of the 12 members are seen – and without their addresses -- even six months after the elections were held for the body.
Sharma further informs the CoA that so far the rest of the Apex Council was concerned, the directors were elected following polling held from June 27-30 last year --the results were declared on July 2 – and that later the Supreme Court had declined to interfere in the issue of elections. “In such circumstances, to avoid any other legal complication or difficulty, it is suggested for the kind consideration of the CoA that this clause [Article 17 of the new DDCA constitution] may be allowed to be given effect after completion of current tenure of the members of the board/Apex Council,” he says, requesting for a discount. “To sum up, the amendment proposed by the BCCI is accepted in principle, subject to that it may be allowed to come in operation, in respect of government nominee directors, after receipt of government consent for their withdrawal, and in respect of elected directors on completion of their present term/tenure.”
The issue of an inflated DDCA executive committee could have been easily avoided had the association, then under the Delhi High Court-appointed administrator Vikramajit Sen, a retired Supreme Court judge, properly explained to the Delhi HC the justification of waiting for the apex court order on the reforms for some time. Importantly, the Lodha Committee had already recommended a nine-member apex council, which was expected to be retained by the Supreme Court as it has not shown any inclination to tinker with this clause. Despite that, the DDCA, quite strangely, pushed for early elections, which were held just 40 days before the August 9 judgment of the Supreme Court that approved the BCCI constitution as proposed by the CoA, though with a few amendments.
The BCCI further wants one-third of all DDCA directors -- barring the CAG nominee and two nominees of the players’ association -- to retire by rotation at every AGM, as required under the provisions the Companies Act 2013, though they could be reappointed later, rules permitting. But the DDCA is resisting this change, too, which pertains to Article 17 (3) of its own amended constitution, smartly using the term “office-bearers” instead of “directors” in its reply to the CoA. “It is submitted that retirement by rotation is neither feasible nor advisable for office-bearers as it leads to a situation of uncertainty and instability. For better implementation of various agendas and schemes, it is necessary that a fixed term of three years is given to at least the office-bearers of any association which is also in line with the BCCI constitution as approved by the Supreme Court,” it writes.
Interestingly, one of the DDCA directors, Om Prakash Sharma, also the association’s treasurer, is a sitting member of the Delhi legislative assembly. The SC-approved new BCCI constitution disqualifies people holding public office and ministers/government servants, besides others. So, technically, Sharma is disqualified to sit on the DDCA executive committee/apex council. Also, Delhi Police has reportedly registered an FIR against Sharma, who was elected from Vishwas Nagar on a BJP ticket, in an assault case outside the Patiala House courts. The BCCI constitution also says that if anyone is “charged by a court of law for having committed any criminal offence, i.e. an order framing charges has been passed by a court of law having competent jurisdiction” he/she too will be “disqualified from being an office-bearer, a member of the governing council or any committee or a representative to the International Cricket Council, or any similar organisation.”
On the issue of transparency – something that has been historically missing at the DDCA – the BCCI wants the association to allot not more than 10 per cent of the entire seating capacity of the Kotla stadium for all international matches. But, here too, the DDCA has insisted that this 10 per cent quota would not include passes distributed to members of the DDCA (over 4,200) and current and former players who have represented Delhi in domestic tournaments. The DDCA has even incorporated this in its amended constitution, and now wants concession from the CoA. “Therefore, the existing clause in the DDCA constitution [38 (8) under ‘Transparency’] may be permitted to stay,” says DDCA in its letter.
Further, the BCCI CoA wants to know “how the DDCA has divorced/separated the membership of any social club that is part of the DDCA from the administration of cricket”. The CoA pointed out that it had received several representations from the various Delhi clubs that “a majority of the DDCA members who have voting rights are social members whereas the affiliated/institutional clubs, which are actually involved in conducting cricketing activities within the jurisdiction of the DDCA, do not have any voting rights”. TV Subramaniam, secretary of the Pelicans Cricket Club, is one of the people who have written to the CoA, seeking membership for the clubs. There are 111 clubs affiliated to the DDCA.
In its reply to the CoA, the DDCA has said that if clubs were to be made members no money in the form of the grant could be given to them, and if that was to be done, “the DDCA may risk losing its license under the Companies Act 2013”. Again, the association has sought concession: “In view of the foregoing, it is requested that existing membership structure of the DDCA may be allowed to be continued as it is.” But the fact is that the DDCA has been making payments to the various teams’ coaches and support staff, most of whom are its members.
The BCCI CoA has also reminded the DDCA to put up all relevant information of its website. But, ironically, the DDCA has failed to put up the photos of seven of the 12 directors on its website, and the addresses of all 12 are also missing – six months after the elections took place.
It is strange that the DDCA has sought all these concessions despite knowing that the CoA cannot give any, as the SC has expressly stated in its August 9, 2018, order that the state associations would have to amend their constitutions on the lines of the new BCCI constitution. And, significantly, the court has also said that no changes to the BCCI constitution can be made with its consent. “We are emphatically of the view that once the draft constitution has been approved by this court, any amendment should not be given effect to without the leave of this court,” said the three-member bench, headed by then CJI Dipak Mishra, in its order of August 9, 2018. But the DDCA is still taking chances to play around the rules, approved by the highest court of the country.
Some DDCA directors, including its secretary Vinod Tihara and director (cricket) Sanjay Bhardwaj, a former first-class player, have fallen apart with Rajat Sharma on the issue of compliance. Bhardwaj even sat on a hunger strike outside the Ferozeshah Kotla for three days in August last year to insist on compliance. Now, he has moved an application for impleadment in the Supreme Court in the BCCI reforms case. He has prayed for fresh elections to the DDCA to fully comply with the SC-mandated reforms.
The last word, however, is yet to said in the wide-ranging cricket administration reforms in the BCCI and its affiliates.