India news November 17, 2015

Delhi government calls for DDCA suspension

The future of the Delhi Test is still uncertain © AFP

The three-member committee set up by the Delhi government last week to probe allegations of widespread corruption within the Delhi & Districts Cricket Association (DDCA) has recommended that the BCCI suspend the state cricket body with immediate effect. In the interim, DDCA should be run by a group of professional cricketers, the committee has said.

Importantly, though, the Delhi government has not made any recommendations on whether Delhi should still be allowed to host the fourth Test of the series against South Africa. The said match is scheduled to begin on December 3, but the DDCA is struggling to get necessary clearances from the Delhi government to be able to stage the match.

The panel comprising secretaries in the sports and urban development departments along with the standing legal counsel for the Delhi government was appointed on November 12 after some eminent former and current Delhi and India cricketers such as Bishan Bedi and Kirti Azad approached Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal asking his intervention to stem the rot of various malpractices within the DDCA.

After a fast-track probe involving meetings with not just the top brass of the DDCA but also BCCI president Shashank Manohar in Nagpur last week, the panel stated in its exhaustive report that the responsibility of cleaning up the mess lay with the Indian cricket board. "The BCCI policy of shutting its eyes to DDCA affairs is not correct," a Delhi government official, privy to the probe report, told ESPNcricinfo. "The DDCA is an affiliate and as things stand the DDCA should be suspended [by the BCCI]. In in the interim the DDCA should be run by a body of professional cricketers. The DDCA should also be brought under the Right To Information Act."

The official also once again clarified that the fourth Test next month between India and South Africa had never been part of the panel's brief. Senior DDCA officials including its acting president Chetan Chauhan, treasurer Ravinder Manchanda and even suspended president Sneh Bansal have told the media recently that they have approached Kejriwal, and he has assured them help.

"That is a completely internal matter between DDCA and BCCI. There is no mention of the India-South Africa Test match in the report. There is no relation between the report and the Test match. The DDCA is misleading. Wrong rumours have been spread," the government official said.

The BCCI had set November 17, today, as the deadline for DDCA to get the required clearances from the various government and civic bodies to stage the Test. Despite numerous reminders from the various government agencies, DDCA failed to respond and pay their dues. The biggest default relates to the non-payment of the entertainment tax amounting to Rs 24.46 crore (US$ 3.7 million approx). The DDCA apparently believes it was exempted from entertainment tax from 2008 to 2012, but the new commission has asked them for arrears for those years plus interest. So DDCA claims it owes no more than Rs 5 crore (US$ 750,000 approx).

"Even with the entertainment tax matter the DDCA is lying. The Delhi government has not interfered," the official said.

The panel has also stated that its recommendations should be forwarded to the RM Lodha committee, appointed by the Supreme Court to recommend changes to the BCCI's constitution and manner of functioning.

One other key recommendation put forth by the panel is to bring a clear law on sports since sports is the purview of the Delhi government. The report says cricket should be managed by professionals to eliminate suspicion of favouritism and interference from the officials as has been the norm.

According to the official the probe report has been submitted, but Tuesday is a public holiday in Delhi so it will come up for consideration only on Wednesday.

Nagraj Gollapudi is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo