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Sports ministry’s decision to consider BCCI surprising

Few would grudge the inclusion of Virat Kohli among those who have been recommended for the Arjuna award. Still the sports ministry seems to have let itself down by accepting a recommendation from BCCI. N Ananthanarayanan reports.

cricket Updated: Aug 14, 2013 01:13 IST
N Ananthanarayanan

Few would grudge the inclusion of Virat Kohli among those who have been recommended for the Arjuna award by the selection panel headed by billiards ace Michael Ferreira.

The committee has forwarded the names to the ministry, which is not known to tinker with the list. This virtually confirms that the dashing batsman who is touted as a future skipper will be rewarded for his excellent run.

While it is unfair to involve players in any battle between administrators, the sports ministry still seems to have let itself down by accepting a recommendation from the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI). The ministry is engaged in a grim battle to get the adamant BCCI to fall in line as far as transparency in the functioning of a cash-rich sports body in concerned.

The revised sports bill, which awaits ratification by the cabinet, seeks to bring the BCCI under the ambit of the Right to Information Act (RTI), a provision accepted by most other sports federations.

The board refuses to come under the RTI on grounds that it is registered under the societies act and hence cannot be considered as a public body.

In fact, last month, the BCCI obtained a stay from the Madras High Court to stop proceedings before the Central Information Commissioner (CIC), which was to hear a Public Interest Litigation that sought to bring the board under the provisions of RTI.

The CIC had issued a notice to the BCCI and its state affiliates to provide details on public funding received – either land provided for constructing stadiums or in the form of tax exemptions.

The criteria
This was to verify whether the RTI criteria that the body should have been funded by the government directly or indirectly would apply for the cricket board. It is seen as vital to bring the board under the RTI Act as there have also been many questionable financial dealings which the sports body refuses to explain.

There are no rules to bar the sports ministry from honouring cricketers and the Allahabad High Court on Monday disposed of a PIL that challenged the BCCI recommending Kohli, besides former skipper Sunil Gavaskar for the Dhyan Chand award.

The Lucknow bench of the court only asked the ministry to follow its own rules while deciding the awardees.