The Justice Lodha Committee has directed state cricket associations not to distribute or use the funds transferred by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) as subsidy. The directions were issued on Monday evening after the besieged cricket board raised a brouhaha over the committee's alleged move to freeze its bank accounts and threatened to call off the ongoing Test series against New Zealand and the forthcoming one against England.
The committee, however, denied any plan to freeze the bank accounts of the cricket board.
The email sent by Lodha Committee secretary Gopal Shankarnarayan to all state associations warned them that the defiance of the directive could be tantamount to contempt of court. “You are aware that a status report has been filed before the Supreme Court for certain directions and that will be taken up for hearing on 6th October 2016. In this light of events, as the action of the BCCI to transfer these funds is contrary to this committee’s directions and sub judice, you are hereby directed not to, in any way, transfer or distribute those funds that have been transferred as above to your association. If anything is done contrary to this express direction, it will be brought to the knowledge of the Hon’ble Supreme Court for appropriate orders on contempt.”
The committee found that transfer of funds amounting to almost 500 crores was done “hurriedly” by the BCCI after its special General Body Meeting held on September 30 in Mumbai. The agenda of the SGM was to discuss the recommendations of the Lodha committee vis a vis adoption of the model constitution and formation of players’ association etc. The email said, “It is further learnt that amounts between Rs 10-20 crore were disbursed to each association as infrastructure subsidy and Rs 28 crore as compensation shares from the Champions League T-20 cancellation. The banks confirm that most of these transactions were hurriedly carried out by RTGS between September 29 and October 1.”
In another email sent to BCCI top brass including president Anurag Thakur, secretary Ajay Shirke, treasurer Anirudh Chowdhary and CEO Rahul Johri, the committee ticked off the cricket board for spreading false information regarding its directive to its bankers over transfer of funds to members. “The Supreme Court Committee has not frozen the bank accounts of BCCI. Nor has it objected to the banking operations/payments relating to routine administration and conduct of cricket matches/tournaments/activities. This has been clarified in express terms to the banks concerned, so that cricket and the public are not made to pay for the actions of the BCCI governors.”
BCCI operates through two banks: Bank of Maharashtra and Yes Bank.
Justice Lodha-led three member panel set up by the Supreme Court also slammed Thakur for his misleading and out of context statements regarding cancellation of IPL or Champions Trophy. Expressing surprise at Thakur’s statement, the panel said that a gap of 15 days between tournaments was a suggestion and that it was not asking for any rescheduling of cricket calender already decided.
The Committee said in its press statement, “The out-of-context statement by the president is misleading. While dealing with IPL, the report had merely suggested that while drawing up the cricket calendar for a year, a gap of 15 days may be provided after a strenuous IPL season before the commencement of events in the National Calendar, to ensure that a cramped cricketing year does not take a toll on the cricketers’ body and longevity of their career. This does not, in any way, prevent some flexibility where the calendar has already been declared for 2017 when the Champions Trophy has already been scheduled.”
In a stern reminder that it was not blinking in face of overt brinkmanship by the BCCI, Shankarnarayan directed the cricket board to send the minutes of its last AGM and SGM by Wednesday morning.