NEW DELHI: Two days following Arun Jaitley’s advice that NGOs such as Greenpeace should be transparent and disclose their funding sources, the Central Information Commission (CIC) accuses the Delhi & Districts Cricket Associations (DDCA) for not being clear enough.

Former Test Cricketer and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MP Kirti Azad who led a campaign to expose ‘electoral and financial frauds’ in the DDCA has claimed of massive corruption ongoing within the body headed by his party member Arun Jaitley for over a decade. 

However, the DDCA claimed of not falling under the Right to Information and therefore they had no compulsion of presenting any information regarding its functioning. 

Ironically, Jaitley was the President of DDCA for 13 years till December 2013 and continues to be its Chief patron. 

The CIC on the other hand, collectively held that the DDCA which otherwise is an autonomous body fulfilling the conditions for being declared a ‘public authority’ under RTI as it had been using the land of the government for the commercial reasons. 

The CIC ruling questioned the modesty of permitting a commercial group to pay institutional rates as lease rent. 

As mentioned in a media report, the persistence from Azad also led to an inquiry by the Serious Fraud Investigation Organization (SFIO) in the corporate affairs ministry, which lists 23 instances of misuse of funds, non-paym¬ent of taxes, not following the tendering route, appointment of tainted auditors and irregularities concerning management of membership, ticketing and a lot more.

The copy of the SFIO report exhibits that there were no efforts made to actually do up the irregularities. 

Unlike other state cricket bodies, DDCA is a private limited company registered under Section 25 of the 1956 Companies Act limited by guarantee and does not have share capital. With 4, 600 members in total, 300 of them are corporate members.

In order to keep vigil, the central government appoints three nominees to the DDCA and since 2011; it included Delhi Congressman Arvinder Singh Lovely, former Union minister Rajiv Shukla and Congress MP Navin Jindal. 

After the change of government in 2014, the new members then included BJP MP Pravesh Varma, and former BJP MLAs R.P. Singh and Sunil Yadav. The truth however remains that no government nominee has ever complaint against any misconduct.

Commenting on the same, former cricketer and DDCA member Bishen Singh Bedi said, “It’s a cozy club; political affiliations don’t matter.”

Below are some points related to the state of Ferozshah Kotla stadium that makes the ‘management’ or ‘mismanagement’ even clearer.

•    Even though the lease expired in 2002, the stadium is still in the control of DDCA and is effectively making it an illegal dweller for past 13 years. However, owners Delhi Development Authority have chosen to be ignorant towards the issue.

•    The DDCA has spent around Rs. 500 crore on the building and reformation in Kotla, on an average Rs. 100 crore per year, in spite of having no legal rights.
•    According to an inspection report in 2013, led by the technical section of the Union ministry of Urban development, unlawful construction was reported at 13 places in Kotla. 

•    An audit report of December 2014 display several episodes of money being paid for construction and maintenance works in cash, with no safeguards like inviting quotations. It displayed that cash payments worth crores were paid with no approval of the executive committee.

•    Three companies including Vidhan Infras¬tructure Private Ltd, Sriram Tradecom Private Ltd and Maple Infra-reality Private Ltd were paid an amount of Rs 1.55 crore supposedly as an advance execution of civil works.

•    Between the span of 2008 to 2011, the DDCA made cash payments in crores for expenses related to hosting cash-rich Indian Premier League (IPL) matches, shown in the name of ‘IPL match expenses’. The investigation by SFIO exposed that these expenses were to be met by one of the big sponsors of IPL, GMR that paid DDCA Rs. 10 lakh a match. Apart from this, the DDCA received Rs. 26 crore from the BCCI between 2008 to 2011 for hosting IPL matches. 

•    According to the SFIO report, the DDCA, for the promotion of cricket in Delhi gets approximately Rs. 30 crore every year and this year, it received Rs. 36 crore.

•    The DDCA runs 110 cricket clubs that organize cricket tournaments, provide coaching, search and sharpen talent. But at the same time, the family of each student has to actually pay approximately Rs. 2-3 lakh annually for coaching of their child and their participation in the matches held by clubs under the DDCA.

As quoted in the media report, former Test cricketer Surinder Khanna running a coaching academy in the national capital said that most of the DDCA members including the directors have no knowledge of cricket. He added that greed for money is all-pervasive. He has seen things in his long years at coaching. 

“Here, 16-year-olds play in the under-14 category, 19-year-olds play under 16, and 23-year-olds play under 19. You can bend rules, everything can be bought if you have the money,” alleges Khanna, demanding an investigation. “There is no scope for players like Bishen Singh Bedi, Kapil Dev and other cricketing legends from humbler backgrounds in today’s DDCA,” Khanna said.

Along with Kirti Azad, Bishen Singh Bedi too has written almost 200 letters to the Finance Minister informing him about the out of control corruption and sought thorough investigation.

“When I met Jaitley, instead of giving me an honest hearing, he went on a tirade against Kirti Azad, for making wild charges against an apparently lily-white DDCA management,” Bedi was quoted in the report.

Bedi reportedly has written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and says that he has strong hopes from him and truly believes in his honest approach. However, the former cricketer is waiting for a response from PM Modi for months now.

Speaking to a weekly magazine, Kirti Azad expressed his displeasure towards his party member and Union Minister Arun Jaitley for being reluctant over the matter. 

On being quizzed for reasons for gunning Arun Jaitley, Azad said, “All my allegations stand substantiated. If I am wrong, punish me. And if I am right, justice should be done. I have done 90 per cent of the investigations. I have all the incriminating documents. I don’t have an iota of doubt.”

The BJP MP from Dharbanga was further asked about any pressure from his party to keep silent on matter. He responded, “No. Nobody tells me anything. I want a defamation filed against me if I am wrong. I was a Test player, part of the team that won India its first Cricket World Cup. I am sportsperson and support fair play. That’s it. I’ll continue my crusade against corruption in the DDCA.”

Explaining that DDCA does not promote cricket, Azad said, “They run academies, clubs, but all of them have become money-making machines. If it wasn’t for the National Institute for Sports, the spirit with which cricket is played would long be dead by now.”

The Finance Minister was unavailable for comments on the same. 

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