India news March 16, 2018

CoA blocks all powers of BCCI's office bearers

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Ugra: CoA's approval of player contracts first step in this transfer of power

For the first time since being appointed last January by the Supreme Court, the Committee of Administrators has finally decided to take complete charge of the BCCI. In a bold move, the CoA has arrested all the powers of the current set of office bearers with immediate effect, to avoid any roadblocks that could be raised by the administrators pertaining to the functioning of and decision-making at the BCCI.

Issuing a fresh set of directives on Thursday, the CoA decided that the office bearers cannot convene any meetings including working committee or selection meetings, or conduct any travel without getting prior consent.

The CoA said that it was forced to issue the fresh directive because of the "difficulties" that were created by the current set of three office bearers comprising CK Khanna (acting BCCI president), Amitabh Choudhary (acting BCCI secretary) and Anirudh Chaudhry (BCCI treasurer). "These difficulties include decisions being taken without consulting the Committee of Administrators, delay in providing feedback/inputs to the Committee of Administrators (when sought on particular issues), and extensive travel being undertaken by office bearers without the Committee of Administrators knowing the purpose of such travel," the CoA said.

The battle for power between the CoA and the office bearers has been raging ever since the court asked the former to become the supervising authority of the BCCI on January 30 last year. As far as the office bearers are concerned, they feel the CoA has sidestepped the sole role it was assigned by the court: to help the BCCI implement the Lodha Committee recommendations. The CoA, the three office bearers have pointed out, has instead been busy making decisions that do not come under its purview.

One such significant decision recently taken by the CoA was approving the player contracts for national and domestic players, both men and women. The office bearers complained that they were never consulted and pointed out that, as per the existing BCCI constitution, it is the board's finance committee that recommends the contracts structure which is ratified by the board's general body at the annual general meeting.

Responding to that assertion, the CoA chairman Vinod Rai said that the contracts structure was sent to the board's finance committee well in advance, but the panel never reverted. So the CoA decided that it could not afford to wait any longer, especially since the players could not be insured without having their contracts in place.

In the fresh set of directives, the CoA has made it clear that any contract valued over INR 25 lakh would need its approval. Once the CoA gives the consent, the contract can then be signed by the acting secretary and board's chief executive officer. In case the secretary does not sign within five days, the CEO (Rahul Johri) becomes the sole signatory. "Once a contract/appointment letter has been signed by the CEO as per the directions of the Committee of Administrators, the same shall be binding on BCCI," the CoA said.

If the secretary or the treasurer delay or do not process any payment or implement any decision, then the CoA has assigned the board's chief financial officer (Santosh Rangnekar) and general manager of cricket (Saba Karim) to be the alternative signatories.

The CoA has also said that henceforth the BCCI will not be paying for any legal advice sought by or individual pleas filed by the office bearers in the ongoing hearing in the court concerning the implementation of the Lodha Committee recommendations.

This latest diktat of the CoA is only further going to deepen the divide between the office bearers and the BCCI management. Recently both Rangnekar and Johri had filed petitions in the court highlighting the conduct of Chaudhry, who they alleged was imposing himself on them and interfering with the daily functioning of the board.

Incidentally, the office bearers have asked the court have a re-look at one of the reforms suggested by the Lodha Committee pertaining to the division of powers between the executive wing and the BCCI management. For the past few months, the court has been postponing hearing the matter owing to a large number of issues of national importance on its docket.

Nagraj Gollapudi is a senior assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo