Alka Rehani Bharadwaj, the representative of the Comptroller & Auditor General of India (CAG,) has asked the BCCI to “ensure” that only “eligible” office bearers attend the board’s Apex Council meeting on July 17. Although she has not spelt out any names, Bharadwaj’s letter puts a question mark over the participation of BCCI secretary Jay Shah, whose tenure has reportedly come to an end under the provisions of the current board constitution
In an email sent on July 4, Bharadwaj has asked BCCI president Sourav Ganguly and joint secretary Jayesh George to check the eligibility of all those attending the July 17 Apex Council meeting. Bharadwaj pointed out that any office bearer whose tenure (six years) is complete would need to provide legal backing to justify their participation.
“The President/ Joint Secretary BCCI (who would be presumably officiating as Secretary after vacation of Secretary BCCI post) need to also ensure that 4th Apex Council meeting is attended by only members, el(i)gible as per the Constitution,” Bharadwaj said in her email, accessed by ESPNcricnfo. “Any decision on this matter may please be backed by facts and endorsed legally. This is being reiterated only to ensure compliance with Honourable Supreme Court approved Constitution.”
Bharadwaj was responding to an email from Shah on July 3, where he had listed the agenda for the July 17 meeting, which would be held over video conference. There is expected to be a discussion on finalising India’s domestic and international calendars for the 2020-21 season and another on the tax exemption issue for the 2021 men’s T20 World Cup. The ICC had threatened to take the 2021 T20 World Cup away from India if the BCCI does not secure a tax exemption from the Indian government.
Along with Shah, Ganguly and George are due to finish six years as an office bearer soon. In April, the BCCI filed a second request with the Supreme Court, following the first one last December, asking it to consider a few radical amendments to the board’s constitution. Among them is a proposal to allow office bearers to continue for six years at one place (BCCI or state) which would ensure Ganguly, Shah and George remain in their posts until 2025, effectively bypassing the mandated cooling-off period.
The court, which is currently in recess, has not yet heard the matter.
Bharadwaj said that with five out of the nine members being office bearers, the Apex Council needed to be “reconstituted”. In fact, the Apex Council has been reduced to eight after Mahim Verma stepped down as BCCI vice-president recently. “In view of pending Honourable Supreme Court hearing on cooling-off period clause, the reconstitution of Apex council warranted due to ending/ coming to end of tenure of Vice President/Secretary/President BCCI needs to be kept as an Agenda item.”
The Apex Council is the second-most powerful wing of the BCCI after the general body and governs all cricket-related activity in India. The Lodha Committee had recommended the Apex Council replace the working committee, which comprised representatives from state associations who could be vulnerable to the power politics in the board. The presence of the CAG official in the Apex Council, the Lodha Committee had said, would provide transparency and accountability in the world’s richest cricket board.
Ganguly entered cricket administration at the Cricket Association of Bengal (CAB) in 2014 as a joint secretary under the late Jagmohan Dalmiya. In 2015, he became the CAB president after Dalmiya’s death and was re-elected for a second term last September before taking charge at BCCI. At the time, Ganguly had said he had 10 months as BCCI president until July.
As far as Shah is concerned, it is not yet clear when his cooling-off period should begin. He was elected as joint secretary at Gujarat Cricket Association in September 2013. ESPNcricinfo has written to Shah twice in the last two months to check on when he would finish six years as an office bearer, but has got no response.
As for George, who was the secretary at Kerala Cricket Association, his six-year term as an office bearer is due to end in August.