The scope of the argument and counter-argument provided by our legal system is such that any case can take years, may be even decades, to come to its logical conclusion.
The way things are right now, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) seems to be completely misinterpreting the fairness of our legal system to delay the inevitable.
The indications are clear. MS Dhoni has every right to think it was the BCCI’s fault that he isn’t playing for Chennai Super Kings anymore. Had the BCCI been a prompt decision-maker, it could have easily avoided banning CSK and Rajasthan Royals. A massive fine or suspension of a few top officials could have done the trick but so indecisive was the BCCI that the matter had to be ultimately dealt with by the highest seat of justice.
With extraordinary power comes extraordinary responsibility. But the BCCI overlooked that part while enjoying the increasing popularity of cricket and the largesse that comes with it.
Thursday was yet another example of the BCCI trying to throw its weight around when it submitted a counter-affidavit, expressing strong reservations against recommendations that could hurt them the most. The Supreme Court’s decision to agree to a partial review could be seen as a small victory for the BCCI.
As of now the general feeling is that the ‘one-state, one vote’ could be the first provision to be reviewed. The logic offered is simple. Most of the associations were formed on the basis of territories that existed pre-Independence or even after that for a good time. Till 1956, Saurashtra was a separate state with Rajkot as its capital. It is perceived that demoting associations that have produced a number of India players to a unit that has no vote could be extremely hurtful. Hence, the BCCI’s tendency to stick to cricket boundaries rather than present territorial ones.
Another point raised by the Supreme Court is the BCCI’s partisan attitude towards politicians and bureaucrats. While the BCCI prides itself on being the richest, ‘most well-administered’ private body in the country, it can’t function without the help of the government machinery.
A good relationship with ministers expedites police inspections ahead of matches, facilitates highest level of protection for players and sometimes even helps waive entertainment tax, something that could improve the country’s basic infrastructure. To have a minister or member of Parliament on board has been an exercise indulged regularly by the BCCI. And they are not ready to part with them at any cost.
The same bullishness is being exerted when it comes to having a CAG official on board. And this could be a preempted move because there are a few state associations who don’t even have audit reports for the last 10 years. It’s alleged that a northern state association even indulges in the practice of buying government land at cheap rates to save tax, only to sell it at higher rates later. Some state associations don’t even have a working website. Considering they get at least around Rs 20 crore from the BCCI every year, this is the least they could do.
At the heart of this long-drawn tussle between the BCCI and the law of the land though is the strong belief that cricket’s apex body in India is a private club where the rich and the powerful hobnob over fine malt and pakodas and entry comes at a cost.
The BCCI is resisting government interference but at the state level it’s a common practice. Sourav Ganguly was nominated as Cricket Association of Bengal (CAB) president by chief minister Mamata Banerjee herself. In Gujarat, the association is headed by Amit Shah who is president of the Bharatiya Janata Party. The list is endless.
What the BCCI could have done was to play the humble big brother’s part. That could have reflected well on it during this time of crisis. In 2009, the BCCI had decided to give a Rs 25 crore grant to the All India Football Federation (AIFF). Frankly, with that kind of grant the AIFF could have run the I-League for two years. But the second installment of that grant reportedly never reached the AIFF because there wasn’t apparently enough clarity from the football body on how they were using it.
The bigger reason cited was the cancellation of tax benefits to the BCCI. Till date, the BCCI continues to fill its pockets from hefty TV contracts and sponsorship while it manages to clip live TV feed to insert advertisements.
It might seem they have got a breather as of now. But, given how the BCCI was dragged across the coals by the legal system, it would be prudent if they decide quickly and in the larger interest of the game.