India news April 18, 2011

Hyderabad board members accused of corruption

ESPNcricinfo staff

An anti-corruption court in Andhra Pradesh has admitted a petition against the Hyderabad Cricket Association for misappropriation of funds relating to the construction of its stadium in Uppal. The petition has been enabled by the Kerala high court ruling which deemed officials of a state cricket association to be public servants and therefore liable to prosecution.

The petition against the HCA, filed by C Babu Rao Sagar, secretary of Sagar Cricket Club in Hyderabad, refers to contracts related to the construction of the Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium and the cost of building the stadium. It was admitted into the Anti Corruption Bureau's court last week.

ACB joint director K Sampath Kumar told ESPNcricinfo that the case had been filed under the Indian Penal Code and the Prevention of Corruption Act. The latter legislation applies primarily to public bodies; that's where the Kerala High Court ruling - which looked into financial irregularities of the Kerala Cricket Association - acted as a precedent for complaints to be admitted into the ACB court.

The two cases are different, though, HCA president Arshad Ayub told ESPNcricinfo. "We fall under the Independent Societies Act. They have referred to the Kerala High Court case, where the Kerala team got some aid from the government. Here there is no aid from the government as such."

In January 2009, after an earlier complaint also from C Babu Rao, a criminal case of misappropriation of funds was filed against the then HCA secretary Shivlal Yadav and treasurer P Yadagiri. Investigations in that matter had gone against Babu Rao, Ayub said, and the HCA won all the cases. Babu Rao however, told ESPNcricinfo that the criminal case was up for hearing next on April 26. While there were only two respondents to the criminal case, the fresh case is against Yadav, who is now HCA vice-president, and 22 other committee members of the HCA.

The allegations now in the Anti-Corruption court are "baseless," Ayub said. Rao, he said, had launched a vendetta against the HCA after being suspended from the body, following an incident in which he had abused Yadav in the HCA secretary's office. "In some cases, we have not even bought the land that they [the litigants] said we have," Ayub said. He also denied allegations of the high cost of construction of the Uppal Stadium, referring to the complaint that said the cost of Rs 108 crores ($24 million) had been too high particularly when compared to the VCA Stadium in Jamtha. "They said the Nagpur stadium cost 45 crores ($10 million). Nagpur has actually cost about Rs 93 crores ($21 million). Our stadium cost Rs 89 crores till last year and this year, after some renovation, that has increased. So what we are looking at is the around the same amount."

On May 9, the investigators will present their first report to the ACB court about their initial inquiry. Sampath Kumar said that while there was no deadline, the court would set a date every month for an update on the investigation. He said the case might go on for a few months given the elaborate procedure involved. "Documents must be collected first from many sources and that collection is on. We will then examine the witnesses with reference to the documents and record their statements."