Delhi govt committee recommends suspension of DDCA

There is continuing uncertainty over the venue for the fourth and final cricket Test between India and South Africa.

Delhi govt committee recommends suspension of DDCA

New Delhi: In a blow to DDCA, a Delhi government-appointed inquiry panel recommended its immediate suspension by the BCCI for alleged irregularities including financial bunglings and said an interim committee of professional cricketers should manage affairs of the game in the capital.

The report came amid continuing uncertainty over the venue for the fourth and final cricket Test between India and South Africa with Delhi and District Cricket Association (DDCA) seeking a one-day extension of the deadline set by BCCI for obtaining all clearances by the state association.

The committee said the government should appoint a Commission of Inquiry under the Commission of Enquiries Act to probe affairs of the cricket administrator while mentioning about findings on DDCA's alleged wrongdoings by various probe panels in the recent past including the Serious Fraud Investigation Office (SFIO).

Observing that the DDCA is directly or indirectly funded by the government and it should be brought under the ambit of the Right to Information Act. It said the office bearers of DDCA are subject to the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988.

"The BCCI cannot continue to have a hands-off approach and should suspend DDCA as per the Memorandum and Rules and Regulations of the BCCI, Regulation 32 (vii) and streamline the administration of DDCA. In the interim, professional cricketers should manage the affairs of cricket in Delhi," said the report of the committee which has been made public by the city government.

The inquiry committee was appointed by Delhi government last week after a number of former cricketers raised the issue of DDCA's functioning with Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal. The Delhi government said it was currently examining the report and will soon decide its further course of action.

The committee met BCCI president Shashank Manohar in Nagpur on Saturday during which the option of holding of the fourth Test through a group of professionals with support from Delhi government was discussed. The report said Manohar was not supportive of it as he felt similar demands might be raised in other states.

Considering the "large number of allegations against DDCA", the probe panel recommended that Delhi government should approach the Supreme Court with a request to have Justice Lodha Committee advice regarding streamlining of the functioning of the cricket administrator.

The Supreme Court-appointed Justice R M Lodha committee, which probed IPL betting scandal, is currently working on its recommendations to reform the way the BCCI functions.

In another important recommendation, the committee headed by Principal Secretary in Vigilance Department Chetan Sanghi said the Delhi government should legislate on various sports including cricket in Delhi to prevent "sports fraud" and ensure transparency in selections of players and elections to various bodies.

It said the affairs of DDCA should be managed primarily by cricketers.

The committee came down hard on BCCI for its "inaction" in dealing with alleged irregularities in DDCA and even quoted a CBI observation on match fixing scandal in 2000. "The committee is of the opinion that BCCI ought to step in immediately as per its own charter to clean up sport of cricket in Delhi in public eye." 

The government said there was no connection between hosting of the fourth Test match and inquiry into the cricket administrator's functioning.

As per Excise department, DDCA owes it Rs 24 crore as entertainment tax. A clearance by excise department was required to host the Test match at at Feroz Shah Kotla stadium.

"Delhi government makes it clear that the ongoing matter regarding the India-South Africa Test match is not in any manner related to this probe report, nor was it the issue before the inquiry committee, which has now submitted its report.

"It is unfortunate that some vested interests made a desperate attempt to link the probe into DDCA wrongdoings and financial irregularities with the hosting of the Test match in Delhi," the government said in a statement.

It said "Delhi government cannot interfere in the proceedings before tax authorities which are performing their quasi-judicial functions, and any attempt to link the government with the DDCA tax matter is clearly false and misleading." 

The entertainment tax is said to have not been paid since 2012 and the DDCA is hoping to get a tax waiver for the same.

The BCCI has already kept Pune as a back-up venue in case the DDCA fails to meet the deadline for the match.

The DDCA vice-president and other board members had appeared before the probe committee and explained details about various issues.

Recently, former Indian captain Bishan Singh Bedi and Madan Lal had met Kejriwal and requested him to intervene in "cleaning up" the DDCA. Former Indian opener Gautam Gambhir had also met the Delhi Chief Minister last week on the issue.

The committee made host of observations about alleged irregularities by DDCA which include construction of the corporate boxes without prior approval of the authorities and complaints of forgery in age-verification certificates. 

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