Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Calling out Lodha panel U-turn, BCCI chief Anurag Thakur writes to state bodies

BCCI President Anurag Thakur on Wednesday wrote a 'strongly-worded' letter, addressed to board members and state associations, blasting the Lodha panel.
He talked about how Justice Lodha had to appear on almost all TV news channels to put his point across of not freezing BCCI bank accounts, but alleged that in reality, the situation was completely different.

Here is full text

"There was a talk of cancellation of ongoing India-New Zealand series in various newspaper and new channels, due to apparent freezing of bank accounts of BCCI by the band concerned under the orders of Lodha committee. When there was a public furor over this, Justice Lodha appeared on almost all TV channels and said that BCCI is misleading the public and that they never ordered freezing of BCCI accounts and ongoing Test series can continue. There was a lot of confusion regarding ongoing series in the minds of people and board members alike. 

As the President of the board, it is my duty to clarify the sequence of events, which resulted in unprecedented seizure of BCCI accounts, albeit momentarily. There are also some other points related to Justice Lodha Committee’s various directives to the board, which I will be clarifying below.
1 . On 3.10.16 the committee sent an email to the BCCI and marked to banks “As the status report is to be taken up for directions by the Hon’ble court on Thursday 16.10.2016, you are hereby directed not to take any steps towards financial disbursements of the amounts as resolved/approved after the direction dated 31.8.2016
2 . Because of this the banks stopped banking transactions of the BCCI on 4.10.16 by issuing letters to that effect. Due to this the BCCI was not in a position to make any payments and hence there would have been a great possibility of the series against New Zealand being cancelled.
3 . When these reports came in the media the Lodha Committee clarified on 4.10.16 that bank accounts should be defreezed. The committee said only routine payments were to be permitted without specifying any guidelines on this. The banks asked the commission for these guidelines but they have not yet been given. There is thus still a lot of confusion on what payments can be cleared and in fact the committee has stated that no payments are to be made to state associations and has also directed state associations not to deal with funds transferred by the BCCI. Unfortunately, this also affected the image of India and the BCCI adversely as various international newspapers have also carried articles of the freezing and defreezing of bank accounts of the BCCI.
4. The Lodha committee on 9.8.16 issued a guideline that there should be a 15-day gap between IPL and Champions trophy. When there was a possibility of one of the games getting cancelled, the Commission clarified that as this was a prior decision and the Supreme Court judgment came later it will not get affected by the decision of the Committee.
5. However, the Committee has chosen to apply the judgment retrospectively to the question of the tenure of the office bearers of BCCI. I fail to understand how there can be any pick and choose. If the report is to be binding, it should be binding in totality and not in parts at the discretion of anybody. The report also says that there should be less stadiums and more grounds. Infrastructure creation is given second preference. Should this also be implemented all over India?
6. Another flip flop is that the Committee states that no payment other than cricket matters is to be made. Payments to state associations are also for cricket matters. There is no explanation or clarity by the Committee for this. In response to the directive to not transfer funds and also the directive issued to state associations not to deal with the funds transferred by the BCCI, many of you have written to suspend matches and postpone the cricket calender. 

I am aware of the problems being faced by you for running of the cricket season with limited finances as a result of this directive. However, rest assured that the BCCI will do everything possible to ensure that the money which it holds in trust on behalf of the state associations is released to them for their use. One fails to understand that if the money with the BCCI is not its own property but is in fact the money of the state associations, how the BCCI can hold onto it.
7. The Committee directed the BCCI to hold a SGM for adoption of the memorandum framed by it. However now the SGM has happened the Committee its calling it illegal. When the BCCI tried to appoint selectors, various articles appeared in the Press based on sources in the Lodha Committee that stated that if selectors apply then they will face adverse consequences. Many candidates did not therefore apply for selection and further many did not get selected due to conflict of interest guidelines framed by the Lodha Committee.
8. The Committee also keeps saying that it is carrying out functions to clean up Indian cricket as it has been approached by former players and cricket fans who keep giving it information. Based on such information directives such as the Frequently Asked Questions are released. The names of such persons are not disclosed and the deliberations of the Committee are also confidential with no person bring allowed to attend.
9. But why should there be such secrecy when it is expected that the BCCI be covered under the RTI. Every deliberation should be public and disclose all information and sources of information much like it is expected of the BCCI.
10. I also want to share with you that nearly every day we have received directives from the Committee threatening the BCCI with contempt of Court proceedings for many or the decisions on routine cricketing matters. Moo directives of the committee end with this threat of issuing contempt of Court proceedings if the same are not adhered to. The BCCI has courteously and respectfully responded to such directives explaining its stand in the matter for the consideration of this high powered Committee. However, there has been no revert by the Committee on the explanations of the BCCI. Instead in recent entails from the Secretary of the Committee. I and other BCCI office bearers have been accused of misleading people. If the functioning of the BCCI is hampered in this manner, it will surely spell the death knell of Indian cricket and of this institution which is more than 87 years old. We must all work together and strive to take Indian cricket to greater heights."

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