New Delhi: The ‘letter’ war between the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) and the SC-appointed Committee of Administrators (CoA) took an interesting turn on Friday. In a strongly worded message, board secretary Amitabh Choudhary made it clear to the two-member committee — led by Vinod Rai — that under no circumstance can the panel try and obstruct BCCI’s democratic rights. He feels that calling a Special General Meeting (SGM) is the most democratic of processes when it comes to taking decisions on policy matters.
In the mail, in possession of CricketNext, Choudhary has minced no words and questions the committee of the results that they have achieved ever since their appointment.
It starts with: “At the outset, it would be pertinent to mention here that the directions and instructions issued by the Committee qua the convening of the Special General Meeting of the Board of Control for Cricket in India has the effect of extinguishing all democratic processes in the organisation and the same is being done by the Committee under the misplaced umbrage of the orders of the Hon’ble Supreme Court. We have been advised that holding a Special General Meeting and discussing and deciding on matters and communicating the same to the CoA in no way transgresses any order of the Hon’ble Supreme Court. It is unfortunate that our rights are sought to be scuttled by the Committee under the garb of the orders of the Hon’ble Supreme Court while taking away even our fundamental right of being represented in courts of law.
“While there has been little effort to show for results during the last year and a half where the Hon’ble Supreme Court mandated reforms were concerned, every possible effort has and is being made by the Committee to stall the decision-making processes institutionalised under the Rules and Regulations of the BCCI and to focus on usurping all the powers contained therein and reduce the organisation to a tool to wield as the it deems fit.
“It is important to point out that the Committee has adopted an adversarial approach to both the implementation of the reforms and to the supervision of the administration of the BCCI with various shifts of goal-posts during this period. Having long lost focus of the primary duty cast upon the Committee by the Hon’ble Court and having been plagued with a flawed notion that the Hon’ble Supreme Court had anointed them to become the BCCI, the focus seemingly now is to thwart even the General Body from so much as discussing its own policy matters which are completely within its domain.”
A chart has been drawn that depicts the occasions on which the committee has specifically prayed for the removal of the office bearers or has acted to curtail the powers of the office bearers.
The secretary then goes ahead and informs the committee that no rule and regulation of the BCCI or any order of the Supreme Court requires the secretary to forward the requisitions he has received to call an SGM. But he said that the same would now be done. He went on to further reiterate that the state bodies have the right to convene an SGM themselves if it is not convened by the secretary as per the rules of the board.
“While it is reiterated that the notice was issued in terms of Clause 17 of the Rules and Regulations of the BCCI upon receipt of the required number of requisitions from the Member Associations of the BCCI and being bound by the said provision, which admittedly is still in vogue, and being a matter of policy, nothing in the Rules and Regulations or any order of the Hon’ble Supreme Court or anything emanating therefrom, required the undersigned to forward any requisitions that the undersigned had received. Now that you have expressed willingness for the requisitions, the same will be forwarded to you.
“It is respectfully submitted that discussion and decision making on policy matters having huge ramifications and financial implications on the BCCI ought to be undertaken by the General Body in a Special General Meeting and not by two individuals, and this is the most democratic and transparent process engrafted in the Rules and Regulations of the BCCI for the conduct of a General Meeting, and I see no worthwhile or lawful reason for trying to stall a democratic process that exists for decisions to be taken on policy matters. Besides, it is consistent with your publicly avowed commitment to principles of transparency. I sincerely believed that in the matter pertaining to the convening of the SGM by way of a valid requisition, I had no option other than to issue the notice for the same, which I had also sent to the Hon’ble CoA as a copy.
“It has to be kept in mind that I am an elected office bearer and have been directed to act as the Secretary of the Board by the Hon’ble Supreme Court. The Rules and Regulations also empower the requisitionists to convene an SGM themselves if the same is not convened by the Honorary Secretary and thus the attempt to stop the SGM from happening is of no real consequence and ought to have been avoided,” he clarified.
Choudhary also made it clear to the CoA that the committee’s job is to supervise the functioning of the board and not to interfere in the policy making or obstruct processes enshrined in the rules and regulations of the BCCI. Working as per their whims and fancies wasn’t something the SC had authorised them to do.
“While it is absolutely clear to us that the Hon’ble Supreme Court has given authority to the Committee to exercise supervision and control over the administration of the BCCI on account of which directions issued by you qua the administration of the BCCI are required to be followed by us and those of us in-charge of the administration of the BCCI being bound by those directions are complying with them despite the fact that we have had contrary views on many issues.
“However, to our knowledge and according to advice received, there is no order that authorises the Committee of Administrators to either take decisions of a policy nature or to obstruct the processes that are enshrined in the extant Rules and Regulations of the BCCI for policy decisions,” he reiterated.
The BCCI secretary also spoke about the bias in certain actions of the CoA, but did not wish to react to them after the committee in its letter on Tuesday said that certain acts of the BCCI members and subsequent events did not inspire any confidence in the general body of the board.
“These are are entirely your own version of events and unfortunately do not paint the true and complete picture. I do not wish to go into the details thereof as doing so would entail a very voluminous response to your contention and may take this discussion to another direction altogether. Suffice it to say that decisions taken by the General Body in the earlier SGM’s have already been within the notice of the Hon’ble Supreme Court and the Hon’ble Supreme Court has passed appropriate orders and is hearing the issue of the implementation of the reforms including the suggestions made to a fresh draft of the BCCI Constitution by the Office Bearers and the State Associations as well as the Committee of Administrators.
“Despite being aware of the on-going proceedings in the highest court of the land you have seemingly, and unhesitatingly, assumed the role even of the Hon’ble Supreme Court passing orders on the merits or otherwise of the above referred submissions which are currently under the consideration of the Hon’ble Apex Court, and yet again, as in the past, on the issue of India hosting its first Day/Night test match, cast aspersions and turned personal against individuals and groups of individuals. This is indicative of a strongly prejudiced state of mind and is neither healthy nor appreciated,” he wrote.
“It would be pertinent to point out here that the BCCI had held an SGM in the month of December, 2017 where the FTP had been approved in principle, on the basis of which the Broadcast Rights had been tendered resulting in the awarding of the Rights to Star which had generated good revenues. It is therefore surprising that though your confidence in the General Body existed prior to and post the said SGM, the same confidence since then has been shattered even though no meeting of the General Body has taken place since then and consequently there has been no material change in the circumstances pertaining to the status of the General Body.
“The only circumstance that has changed is that in view of actions taken by the Committee in the recent past especially those relating to appointments the undersigned has been categorical and emphatic in expressing his contrary views. However, even this can hardly be a cause of worry for the Committee so far as the SGM is concerned because the undersigned does not even have a vote in the SGM. In fact, the existence of contrary views is extremely healthy in a democratic set up and, if anything, should have been welcome.”
The CoA’s decision to say that the "General Body of the BCCI" isn’t supreme and doesn't have the monopoly on policy decisions as per the Supreme Court's verdict on July 18, 2016 hasn’t gone down well with the secretary as he decided to clear any misunderstanding the CoA had and also showed them the places where the two-member committee has erred.
“I would like to illustrate that in matters of administration, the CoA is to supervise the it but in matters of policies of the BCCI, the General Body is supreme. The decisions of the BCCI, whether policy or administration are subject to judicial review and thus, the Hon’ble Supreme Court is ‘supreme’. Therefore, if a decision with regard to policy is taken by the SGM (and if it is not violative of any direction/order of the Hon’ble Supreme Court) it is respectfully stated that the CoA cannot interfere with the decisions since neither the office bearers (administrators) nor the CoA (the entity that supervises the administration) can bind the General Body to commit to any policy or contractual decision without its free will taken by two individuals as per their fancy by keeping even the elected office bearers in dark,” he said.
“One still fails to find the source of the authority or the power in the Committee from preventing the BCCI Committees or the General Body from convening their meetings and taking a decision. Despite my having raised this contention in my umpteen mails, I am still awaiting information on the specific order of the Hon’ble Supreme Court which confers power upon the Committee to take over the BCCI and even take policy decisions with huge financial implications by keeping even the office bearers in dark leave alone the members who constitute the BCCI,” he added.
The letter also took a dig at the legal policies being framed for the committee by its advisors. “While the undersigned is aware that the Committee is headed by none other than an ex-member of the prestigious IAS from Nagaland Cadre, it still does appear that the Hon’ble Committee of Administrators is not being briefed properly and its advisors, legal or otherwise, for reasons best known to them, are giving advice that is not only faulty but also threatens to derail processes and systems, the outcome of which has even been appreciated by the Justice Lodha Committee.
“If one was to actually refer to the Justice Lodha Committee’s recommendations and the Constitution proposed by the said Committee, it would make it abundantly clear that the decisions of the Apex Council, the IPL GC etc. would all be subject to the General Body of the Board,” the secretary pointed.
Commenting further on the usage of the term ‘monopoly’ by the CoA, the secretary wrote: “It is interesting to note your use of the word ‘monopoly’ with regard to decision-making of the BCCI. That may be how you think about it and therefore that is why you may be keen to take decisions of a policy nature even if you do not have jurisdiction to do so. However, we at the BCCI have never considered the process of decision-making a monopoly but it is in fact a burden that the organisation collectively bears, to decide on matters of policy that impact the organisation and its stakeholders. It is a heavy burden but one that we willingly bear. We make mistakes and we correct them, we innovate and we lead.
“We transform with time and therein we are a dynamic organisation that is responsive to its stakeholders and we have done well and we can do better. However, the process has to be democratic and decision-making of policy nature cannot rest in the hands of 2 individuals and without even being the BCCI they cannot bind the organisation without its authorisation, consent and free will.”
He also expressed his shock at the attitude of the CoA to interpret every move of BCCI officials as an attempt to bypass orders of the SC. “The undersigned is surprised at the manner in which everything is being interpreted by the CoA as an attempt to bypass the orders passed by the Hon’ble Supreme Court when every care has been taken by the undersigned to comply with each and every order of the Hon’ble Court.
“The only reason one can fathom for this convoluted interpretation is the knowledge that some of the decisions of the CoA may be such decisions that have been taken without jurisdiction or without following the principles established by law and judicial decisions.
“It is also submitted most respectfully that even the public at large may easily interpret as to whose contentions are self-serving, however, your view that the arguments raised by the undersigned have no basis either in law or fact is a notion that is factually incorrect and legally unsustainable,” he wrote.
Finally the secretary requested the CoA to allow the smooth conduct of the SGM to help the BCCI take well-rounded resolutions that may cover all aspects of decision making. He also requested the CoA to withdraw the orders which might come in the way of the constitutional functioning of the BCCI.
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