CAG member urges BCCI to call Apex Council meeting

The BCCI has been asked to convene a meeting of its Apex Council at the earliest by Alka Rehani Bharadwaj, the nominee of the Comptroller & Auditor General (CAG), to look into the conflict of interest complaints filed by Sanjeev Gupta, a life member at the Madhya Pradesh Cricket Association (MPCA). The Apex Council is one of the most powerful committees of the board. It is tasked with the governance of the BCCI and ranks second after the general body.

According to PTI, on Monday, Bharadwaj, who was appointed by the CAG to be part of the BCCI’s Apex Council in December, sent an email to all the board’s five office bearers, including president Sourav Ganguly and secretary Jay Shah, along with Rahul Johri, the chief executive officer.

Ganguly and Shah along with the other three office bearers – Arun Dhumal (treasurer), Jayesh George (joint secretary) and Mahim Verma (vice-president) – are part of the Apex Council along with Bharadwaj. The other three members comprise two representatives from the Indian Cricketers’ Association (Anshuman Gaekwad and Shanta Rangaswamy) and an elected representative nominated by the general body.

Incidentally the Apex Council has met just once (November 30) since Ganguly’s administration took charge in October, and as per the board’s constitution, it is supposed to meet every three months.

In the e-mail, Bharadwaj reportedly listed five different conflict charges Gupta had filed since Ganguly’s administration was elected on October 23. In his latest complaint, filed on Monday with the BCCI Ethics Officer, Gupta has said former Indian batsman Gautam Gambhir is ineligible to be part of the cricket advisory committee (CAC), which is tasked with picking the men’s selection committee. The BCCI recently approached Gambhir, along with former India seamer Madan Lal and former India women’s cricketer Sulakshana Naik, to be part of the CAC which has been defunct since last November.

In his complaint Gupta said Gambhir, being a Member of Parliament, was ineligible as per the rules listed within the BCCI’s constitution. It is not known whether that complaint is on the shortlist of conflict charges that Bharadwaj wanted to discuss with the rest of the Apex Council.

One complaint that Bharadwaj did point out concerns the appointment of the former MPCA secretary Milind Kanmadikar as the team manager of the India A team, currently in New Zealand.

Gupta said that Kanmadikar was ineligible because he had served as MPCA secretary until October 2019, and hence had to serve the mandatory cooling off period of three years as per the rules which were approved by the Supreme Court in 2018. As per the rules, an office bearer or an administrator needs to serve a three-year cooling off period after serving two consecutive terms (6 years). “Mr Kanmadikar, is in compulsory cooling period ( he was Office Bearer of MPCA for 7 years in succession from Aug 2012 till 1 Oct 2019 ),” Gupta had said in his complaint, sent on January 9. “He stands disqualified to occupy any post whatsoever till he completes his cooling period on 1 Oct 2022 , including post as Team Official of Indian A Team.”

Kanmadikar’s appointment was made by the BCCI, but Bharadwaj wanted to know the details because, as she pointed out, the office bearers did not have the power to do it themselves without discussing the matter at the Apex Council. “In terms of BCCI Rule 8 and 15, there is no provision through which either BCCI AGM or BCCI Apex Council can delegate their powers to BCCI office-bearers,” Bharadwaj said in the e-mail, according to PTI.

Bharadwaj said she had already sent two other emails to the office bearers in which she had also asked for the minutes of the November 30 Apex Council meeting to be sent to her in addition to uploading the annual reports of the previous two years on the board’s website. “Thus, as requested on 7 January 2020, I again request for early convening of Apex Council meeting. Request you, as per my earlier mails dated 20 December 2019 and 3 January 2020, to share and also upload the Annual Reports for last 3 years on BCCI Website, in compliance with Rule 37(5) & (6) of the Constitution.

“You are also requested to share the Agenda, Explanatory notes, Minutes of Apex Council meeting of 30 November 2019 and also [IPL] Governing Council meeting, last held.”

Bharadwaj’s email is a significant development. The RM Lodha Committee had recommended that the CAG representative needed to be part of the Apex Council to help provide transparency and accountability in the world’s richest cricket board. The BCCI opposed the move when it was suggested, with former board president Anurag Thakur (Dhumal’s brother) controversially suggesting the CAG nominee appointment could not be allowed. Thakur was later sacked by the court for failing to implement the reforms.