N Srinivasan © PTI
N Srinivasan and his group will press for his return at the helm in the BCCI © PTI

By Kirti Azad

N Srinivasan was not involved in match-fixing and did not attempt to scuttle the probe into corruption in Indian Premier League (IPL), the Justice Mukul Mudgal panel’s inquiry report has said. However, the Supreme Court took note of the fact that Srinivasan and the IPL governing council — including Chief Operating Officer (COO) Sundar Raman — were aware of betting and spot-fixing in the tournament but failed to take action.

The big question is whether the Srinivasan group will use this report to press for his return to BCCI or even seek a second term as president? Only apex court can answer this.

But it’s important to remind cricket lovers that for the last several years, Bishan Singh Bedi and many ex-internationals have been trying to bring sanity in Delhi & District Cricket Association (DDCA).

The malaise that exists in all the state associations is reflective of the moral and financial decay that is so typical of the rot that exists in the parent organisation, BCCI. The most powerful body in any organisation is invariably the Vigilance Department headed by an honest Chief Vigilance Officer whose job is to maintain honesty and transparency at all levels.

But, in BCCI and IPL, the job is given to a Disciplinary Committee, which is meant to ‘brush acts of indiscipline and corruption’ under the carpet. The charge of such a Disciplinary Committee is given to a lawyer who can manipulate words and bring a perfunctory approach to all proceedings, and to let off all acts of corruption and indiscipline.

The attitude is… “I could not care less – do what you like”. Since politicians control most associations and BCCI, the approach is simply to buy time. As the leading ex-president of DDCA used to always say… “The most important news items in newspapers lose importance by the next day, and peanuts are sold on the newspapers. So, just delay taking a decision.”

If this is the attitude of these politicians-cum-administrators, one can understand why all sports in general, and cricket in particular, have literally gone downhill. If we are able to make our presence felt in international competitions, it is essentially because of individual efforts of the sportspersons rather than a manifestation of support received from sports federations/ BCCI.

Now, just look at the reply that I have received from the Government to my Parliament question (No. 4703) on August 28 re Accountability of BCCI:

(a) Whether there are reports of irregularities/ corruption in the functioning of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) and there is a need to bring greater transparency and accountability in its functioning?

Ans. Yes, Madam.

(b) If so, the details thereof and the steps being taken in this regard.

(c) Whether the Government also proposes to bring all the National Sports Federations including the BCCI under the ambit of the Right to Information Act, 2005; and

(d) If so, the details and the present status thereof?

Ans. (b) to (d): Several controversies about BCCI regarding allotment of franchisees, match-fixing, betting etc were reported in sections of print and electronic media. Various agencies of the Government namely the Enforcement Directorate, Income Tax and Service Tax Department have conducted inquiries into the allegations of irregularities involving the BCCI. Government, in April, 2010, declared all the NSFs receiving grant of Rs10.00 lakhs or more in a year from the Government as Public Authority under Section 2(h) of the RTI, 2005. However, the BCCI has been refusing to declare itself as a public authority on the plea that it does not receive any financial grant from the government. The matter to bring the BCCI under the RTI Act is pending before the Central Information Commission (CIC) and the Government has already submitted its written submission before the

CIC pleading to bring the BCCI under the RTI Act.

CIC issued notice to all concerned for adjudicating the matter on July 25 and 26, 2013. However, Hon’ble Madras High Court vide order dated 24-07-2013 issued interim stay on the said proceedings. The Government has also formulated a draft of the National Sports Development Bill, 2013, to bring all the National Sports Federations and the BCCI under the RTI Act with the provision of exclusion clause for protecting personal/confidential information relating to athletes.

Views of general public and all the stake holders have been sought on the draft of the National Sports Development Bill, 2013. Since some of the issues need detailed deliberation and consultations among various Ministries/ Departments of Government of India and other stake-holders, it is not possible to indicate a definite time frame for enactment of the said Bill.

The faith that our ex-DDCA President has in the ‘forgetful Indian psyche’ is not entirely misplaced – not taking a decision does not cause the heavens to fall.

Public memory is short – all this commotion will end and the news will not be news once some other news comes by. But, did the BCCI bargain for Supreme Court’s interpretation of legality and morality- something that is alien to BCCI’s top brass?

Perhaps, not! And, let us thank the Hon Supreme Court for slamming in this compulsive realisation by BCCI bosses.

Do you agree?

(Kirti Azad is a member of the 1983 World Cup winning Indian team. He played in seven Tests and 25 ODIs and is a BJP Member of Parliament. The above news has been republished with permission from DNA, where it first appeared)