The Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) has filed an Interlocutory Application in the Supreme Court of India requesting to not be included in the Apex Council of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) and its affiliates as per the apex court-directed administrative reforms of the BCCI.
While adopting the Lodha Committee recommendations in July 2016, the apex court had ruled that a CAG representative has to be included in the apex council of the BCCI and each of the State associations. However, in its application filed on July 3, CAG has requested the apex court to “modify” its earlier order considering “CAG’s specialisation is audit” and instead utilise CAG for auditing various cricket bodies.
“The CAG may be be considered for intervention in the affairs of BCCI/ State Cricket Associations only for the purpose of audit – either as routine, e.g. annual, biennial etc., or as and when directed by this Hon’ble Court,” states the application filed on July 3, accessed by The Hindu.
While some of the state associations had already implemented the administrative reforms, the BCCI finally included a CAG representative in in its Apex Council in December 2019. According to CAG’s application, “only 18” of the 35 state associations have “requested nominations”.
The 101-page application claims that the purpose of including a CAG representative in the BCCI and its affiliates’ decision-making has not been served based on the two apex council meetings and three IPL governing council meetings in the last six months.
“It is most humbly submitted on behalf of the CAG that having regard to the observations/ experience gained by its nominees for last almost six months (after 4-12-2019), the objective sought to be achieved by this Hon’ble Court by the nomination of the CAG representative has not been achieved as CAG’s representative has become part of management decisions (taken by majority) rather than CAG having an oversight function over decisions of the BCCI; in fact, CAG has been precluded from carrying out any audit, or being the auditor of last resort, or even of advising any authority, including this Hon’ble Court, if the audit of BCCI conducted by private CAs or accounting firms is fair, just and reasonable. Therefore, an imminent necessity has arisen for consideration of the issues raised and the prayer made on behalf of the CAG in the present application,” the application states.
The application details that despite being the auditor of the last resort as per the Constitution’s Article 149, the CAG representative in the current structure has been reduced to merely one of the nine voting members of BCCI’s apex council. It also adds since the BCCI’s is audited by private firms, the CAG cannot really exercise its core strength despite having received “more than 120 complaints” alleging financial irregularities in various cricket bodies.
Interestingly, the CAG nominee Alka Rehani Bharadwaj has raised multiple objections during her short tenure as part of the BCCI management. The most recent of her objections came last week when she objected to Jay Shah continuing to serve as BCCI secretary.
While BCCI vice-president Mahim Verma has resigned, Mr. Shah has reportedly served out his eligible tenure last month before being forced into a cooling-off period according to the administrative reforms. BCCI president Sourav Ganguly is scheduled to serve a cooling-off period after this month-end.
Since the BCCI has filed a prayer in the Supreme Court about modifying its previous order that will effectively suit Mr. Shah and Mr. Ganguly to continue in office at least till October 2022, Mr. Shah has continued to serve as secretary pending appeal to the court.
“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,” Bharadwaj wrote to other apex council members on July 4 after receiving the notice and agenda for the apex council meeting scheduled on July 17.