An inquiry into the affairs of the Delhi and District Cricket Association, which is at the heart of the recent controversy between Arvind Kejriwal and Arun Jaitley, contains much information about serious irregularities and wrongdoings in the organisation.
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal had accused a Central Bureau of Delhi investigation team of illegally accessing and reading the file in his office during last week’s raid on his Principal Secretary Rajendra Kumar. Kejriwal had also charged that Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley was behind the raid as he wanted to scuttle the probe into DDCA corruption being conducted by the Delhi Government.
The Wire has accessed the report which reveals that while there is a lot of damning information against various DDCA office bearers and officials, Arun Jaitley’s name does not figure anywhere. This is probably what had prompted the Union Minister to counter through a blog that Kejriwal “seems to believe in untruth and defamation, delivered in a language that borders on hysteria” and that the CM had “questioned the purpose of the search and tried to divert attention by linking it to the Delhi Cricket body rather than alleged corruption of this official.”
The mudslinging between the two apart, the report of the Committee constituted by Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia on November 12, 2015, to look into the complaints against DDCA and some of its officials and members has indeed exposed a lot of graft.
The deliberations unearthed “overage fraud; usage of subvention money; Properly Tax, selection of players / coaches / managers, lease deed, entertainment tax, irregularities observed by the Registrar of Companies, perusal of various orders/reports by different agencies, FIRs filed in various police stations, etc”.
Among the revelations in the Delhi Government panel report is the fact that the DDCA’s Internal Fact Finding Committee too had on December 13, 2014 decided to conduct an inquiry into “allegations of large scale financial irregularities against S.P.Bansal, President and Amit Khanna, General Secretary of the Association”.
The panel, comprising Principal Secretary, Department of Urban Development in Delhi Government Chetan B. Sanghi as its Chairman and Rahul Verma as Member, had detailed meetings with members of the DDCA, represented by Chetan Chauhan and Ravinder Manchanda; the complainants, represented by Bishan Singh Bedi, Sameer Bahadur, Surinder Khanna and Akash Lal; and president of Board for Control of Cricket in India Shashank Manohar. The Committee, which also interacted with various government departments, also utilized and studied various court rulings to come out with its report.
The panel said there were irregularities in the election of the Sports Working Committee of DDCA. It quotes the observations of two Election Commissioners, G.P. Thareja and Babu Lal, appointed by the Tis Hazari Courts for the June 2015 polls, in a report submitted in September, of “lack of transparency, bias and impartiality by the Sports Secretary and the Convenor of Sports Working Committee and also in recognition of club on the basis of inheritance.”
The Election Commissioners also reported that private cricket academies were being run under the umbrella of DDCA; that there was no scope for students of schools and colleges to participate in the league matches of DDCA; and an instance of a single society having two teams, both of which were entitled to vote in the election through their nominees.
When the Election Commissioners demanded records of the proceedings of the Executive Committee and of the Sports Working Committee, and even wrote to the president of BCCI about this, these were not handed over to them.
The Election Commissioners further remarked that “it is unfortunate to record that a room for suspicion has been created and that the dealings of the Sports Secretary and Convenor of the Sports Working Committee have not been fair.”
To substantiate this, the Commissioners cite how the Sports Working Committee did “not act in fairness” when it came to recognizing one Pradeep Srivastava to represent K.N. Colts as Krishna Nagar Colts Society. Further, they said the Committee also refused to give a report to the Executive Committee even when expressly demanded. Further, the Sports Secretary did not even respect the recommendation of the High Court in the matter, they stated. The Election Commissioners also said the DDCA failed to assist them.
Such allegations are what led the panel headed by Sanghi to conclude in their report that “there were massive and continuing illegalities in the affiliation of these clubs and thus concluded that they were not eligible to vote”.
DDCA Inquiry findings
The DDCA Fact Finding Committee, whose mandate was limited to probing transactions in the financial year 2013-2014 and records till December 9, 2014, still uncovered “huge financial irregularity”. Here are a few instances of this, cited in the report:
1. Overstaffed, but more workers welcome
The Fact Finding Committee report states: “On inquiry, it has been revealed that many spurious and illegitimate payments have been made to certain companies in 2013-2014 and till 09.l 2.2014. Not only this, it is an apparent fact that Association is overstaffed, but still a lot of money has been spent on hiring superfluous workers. Apart from this, large scale payments have been made in the form of overtime.”
2. Different reasons for same loan
In one instance, the DDCA was found to have given a loan of Rs 1.55 crore to three different companies – Vidhan Infrastructure Pvt. Ltd., Shri Ram Tradecom Pvt. Ltd., and Maple Infrareality Pvt. Ltd. – despite the law clearly stating that a charitable company cannot issue loans for commercial purposes. The Committee records that when confronted, president S.P. Bansal said these investments were made to earn interest, while general secretary Amit Khanna contradicted him, stating that the loans were actually payments made on behalf of BCCI.
The Internal Auditor of DDCA had in his report observed that the payments had been made without any supporting documentation and in grave violation of settled practice, and since no interest was paid on the sums, the Fact Finding Committee noted “money was never transferred with an intent to earn interest, but with some other ulterior motives”.
3. Payments to multiple companies with same addresses and directors
The panel also found that substantial payments were also made to nine companies which, on investigation, turned out to have the same registered office, same e-mail IDs as well as common directors. “Duplicate bills were issued and the reasons for payments are falsified by ledger entries including a case where one Manu Technical & Financial Consultant (P) Ltd. and Neofam Trading Co. were paid for work that had already been done by one Ritu Engineers and Contractors in June, 2013.”
4. Contracts awarded without quotations
The Committee also noted that heavy professional charges were being paid to many firms on account of duplication of works. It reported a total payment of Rs. 1.15 crore to 16 such firms. Similarly, the Committee noted gross irregularities in making payment to decorators and others and said work was awarded without inviting any quotations. The Committee noted that the accounts of the DDCA were found to be in disarray, and that too for a significant period.
5. Member appointed lawyer, fees paid to son
The Committee also noted “irregularity in payment of legal matters” and said that advocate J.S. Bakshi, who represented the Association, was raising bills in name of his son, Amitesh Bakshi. “This was done so because Mr. J. S. Bakshi, being a member of the Association is not entitled to receive any remuneration / payment in any form whatsoever.”
In its report filed on December 29, 2014, the Fact Finding Committee concluded that “the magnitude and extent of improprieties, irregularities and misconduct committed by various officials mentioned in the report is quite complicated, gigantic and now it is up to the Executive Committee of the Association to take it to its logical conclusion.” Following this report, DDCA officials submitted that Bansal had been removed from the post of president.
This elicited a sharp reaction from cricketer-turned-politician Kirti Azad, who has consistently campaigned against corruption in DDCA. Azad termed Bansal’s removal as a “complete eye wash, simply to thwart registration of criminal cases against them for having committed serious criminal offences punishable under the law.” He further charged that no action had been taken against other officials of DDCA who have been indicted in the Fact Finding Committee Report, lnternal Audit Report or the Election Commission Report.
What the Centre’s inquiry exposed
Acting on complaints filed by Azad, the Ministry of Corporate Affairs had ordered its own inspection of DDCA, its book of accounts and records. The Inspecting Committee, with representation from Serious Fraud lnvestigation Office, had at the time found that, among other violations, the DDCA had contravened technical provisions of the Companies Act relating to transactions with directors and managerial remuneration, disclosures in annual accounts, maintaining accounting standards, non-maintenance of account on accrual basis and maintenance of statutory registers.
Following up on Azad’s allegation about fraud/irregularities in membership and a proxy system during general meetings, the Inspecting Committee had also found that the DDCA and its directors had not followed the procedures when it came to appointing and terminating of members. It further observed that the directors – S.P. Bansal, general secretary and C.K. Khanna, vice-president – did not comply strictly with the clauses for admission of new members and acted ultra-vires to the Articles of Association.
The Delhi Government-constituted inquiry panel discovered more evidence of grave irregularities at the DDCA. It’s findings show that the reconstruction of the Ferozeshah Kotla Stadium, carried out from 2002-2007 and initially budgeted at Rs. 24 crore, ended up costing Rs. 111 crores. This was revealed in a reply filed by the DDCA before the Deputy Director of Serious Frauds Investigation Office (SFlO) and the Inspecting Team of the Ministry of Corporate Affairs in December 2012.
Further, the panel examined the inspection notes and found that not only was the scope of work was expanded much beyond the original tender, many of sub-contracts for the reconstruction works were awarded without tenders being issued at all. A case in point was that of Engineering Projects India Limited (EPIL), which was awarded the original tender for Rs. 24.26 crores but was ultimately paid Rs. 57 crore, more than double the amount.
This had prompted BJP MP Kirti Azad to allege that that “many of the companies which have been awarded such civil works were actually just fronts for DDCA office-bearers. The amount spent on the stadium has been inflated for this reason, that is, to benefit DDCA office-bearers,” the Committee records.
Other irregularities unearthed by the Sanghi-led panel include:
1. Illegal construction of corporate galleries
The panel found that the DDCA undertook construction works without permission from the Municipal Corporation of Delhi and the Delhi Urban Arts Commission. It also constructed 10 box galleries in the stadium and sub-leased them for 10 years to corporates for a total amount of Rs 36 crore. Both the construction and the sub-leasing was done without the requisite approvals from the Municipal authorities or the land owner, the Ministry of Urban Development, Government of India.
2, Forgery of age-verification certificates
The panel report cites two FIRs registered by Kirti Azad at the IP Estate police station under Sections 420, 468 and 471 of the Indian Penal Code alleging that forged age-verification certificates were being prepared and accepted in a systematic manner by the DDCA in collusion with Vidya Jain Public School, Rohini, to allow over-age players to play in younger age groups. The FIR had named specific players who benefited from forged date of birth and school certificates.
3. Lack of disaster preparedness at stadium
Following a fire in the rear portion of Ferozeshah Kotla Stadium On May 3, 2014, the District Disaster Management Authority had carried out an inspection to assess the disaster preparedness of DDCA for IPL 2014. As note by the Sanghi-led panel, the agency found several shortcomings in the preparations: the Incident Command Post (ICP) was found ill equipped; no search and rescue team was available; there was no valid lift license for the lift car at the Old Club House; and the medical relief camp had not been set up.
In view of all these complaints and findings, the Delhi Government panel noted that the “the continuous flow of complaints to this Committee from former cricketers, eminent sport persons, citizens and responsible office bearers of the DDCA lends credence to the allegations that all may not be well in the DDCA,” and calls for a “comprehensive and thorough probe.”
Inaction by BCCI compounding the problem
According to the panel’s report, the BCCI, which was duty-bound has to keep a check on the misconduct of its members, compounded the problem by often choosing to look away. It recalls the match fixing scandal in 2000, when the CBI had held the BCCI responsible for “never seriously” addressing the problem till the lid was blown off it. The Bureau had remarked that “it is obvious that, in spite of their public posturing now, all the office-bearers of BCCI over the past decade or so have been negligent in looking at this problem in spite of clear indications of this malaise making inroads into Indian Cricket.”
If it was negligence around match-fixing then, this time the BCCI’s actions are being called into question over financial irregularities and misconduct of officials. “The primary reason behind this is the BCCI’s lack of accountability to anyone. The structure of BCCI is such that, it is very difficult for any person who has not previously held a post in BCCI or affiliate units to get into cricket administration in India,” the Sanghi-led panel report notes.
It concludes by expressing hope that the BCCI would “step in immediately as per its own charter to clean up the sport of cricket in Delhi, in the public eye.”