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DDCA: A Continuing Saga Of Corruption

Allegations of sexual harassment and corruption against a “top official” of the Delhi & District Cricket Association (DDCA) have surfaced. But DDCA is not new to controversy and corruption, writes Chander Shekhar Luthra.

By Chander Shekhar Luthra
New Update

DDCA A cricket stadium | Courtesy: Delhi and District Cricket Association | Facebook

The Delhi & District Cricket Association (DDCA), which recently hosted a Test match, is again making headlines, but this time for the wrong reasons. A top DDCA official is facing the heat over sexual harassment allegations raised by a woman.

The woman claims the person in question “sexually and physically exploited her after promising to marry her”. She has also accused the top official of misappropriation of funds. An email regarding the allegations has been sent to the Indian Cricket Board’s (BCCI) highest officials, including President Roger Binny, Secretary Jay Shah, and NCA chief VVS Laxman. All the top officials of the BCCI have so far chosen to remain silent on the issue. However, this is not the first time DDCA has been in the dock.

DDCA AND CORRUPTION

To understand the negative publicity the DDCA has garnered since the 1970s, it is important to mention how former India skipper Bishan Singh Bedi started his tirade against a lack of transparency and fairness in Delhi’s cricket selections then. It was because of his sustained fight against various malpractices of the DDCA that he was able to uproot the then management led by RP Mehra and his coterie who ruled DDCA for almost 15 years. Even after his removal, nothing changed at the Kotla premises as politicians were brought in from different parties by those who ruled this premiere cricket club until 2017 using proxy voting. Finally, the intervention by the Supreme Court of India brought an end to proxy voting in all cricket associations across India.

No one in the know about DDCA affairs is really surprised to hear about the latest allegations of sexual harassment and misappropriation of funds. It was almost a decade back, in 2013, soon after the spot-fixing case in the lucrative Indian Premier League (IPL), that former India 1983 World Cup winning team member and the then Member of Parliament Kirti Azad, former 1982 Asia Cup hero Surender Khanna and Akash Lal along with Bedi led a sustained campaign against the then management led by Arun Jaitley, against the corruption and unfair selections that were the order of the day.

They took the campaign right up to the Supreme Court, where they became interveners in an existing petition filed by Aditya Verma vs BCCI. That led to the formation of the Justice Lodha Committee, which subsequently came out with recommendations on how cricket administration could be made “accountable and fair”.

Justice Lodha, ex-Chief Justice of India, and his team, which included two other erudite ex-SC judges, met with dozens of people, including cricketers, journalists, and those with ideas, and gave a report to the apex court. In fact, the proofs given by Kirti Azad to the Justice Lodha Committee were incorporated in the final recommendations submitted on July 18, 2016.

CHANGE OF FACES, NOT PRACTISES

Be that as it may, after nearly 78 months since the passing of the judgement, nothing really has changed. The BCCI and all state associations have continued to milk the resources, power, and prestige of cricket in India. Earlier, there were petty, uneducated errand boys who controlled state associations; now, state associations like Delhi are controlled by politicians and lawyers, and often, the lawyers cumulate with the politicians.

Coming to Delhi, the expose and allegations made in the latest case are only a repeat of what was routinely happening in the DDCA. In this case, the woman has made startling revelations about the bragging by the “top official” in question about how he took kickbacks in contracts and jewellery to ensure selections in the various Delhi teams.

The rumour inside the Kotla premises is that the Ombudsperson, a retired SC judge known for her integrity and legal acumen, is contemplating stepping down in view of the unseemly controversy that is being whipped up by certain vested interests, based on what the official in question has apparently told the lady who has levelled the allegations. It has also been learnt that the Ombudsperson is currently seized of serious conflict-of-Interests issues along with various other audit reports related to work carried out in DDCA premises in recent months.

According to Kirti Azad, who has spearheaded the DDCA project, “it is common knowledge that talented cricketers from poor backgrounds have no chance of being selected because of a well-entrenched and crooked system of selection that has continued for a long time.” Even now, much of the DDCA’s money is spent on the most useless activities, including imaginary or exaggerated construction and the payment of legal expenses, whereas cricket gets a minuscule share of spending. Kirti Azad has made an impassioned plea to the Ombudsperson not to resign.

Though the BCCI has chosen to keep an eerie silence, it’s time a thorough inquiry is ordered. And until the completion of a detailed probe, the “top official” should be asked to step aside until he comes out ‘clean’. Last but not least, all contracts given during his tenure should be scrutinised, and all the bills that have been passed at his instance should be reviewed. Otherwise, nothing will come out of these allegations, and the same office-bearers will continue to run riot as they have been doing for the last many decades!

ChandrashekharChander Shekhar Luthra is a cricketer turned senior sports journalist based in Delhi. He is an ex Ranji player and he has more than 27 years of experience in covering various sporting events. Apart from covering ICC Cricket World Cups along with many other series across the world, he is known for his insightful coverage of the 2012 London and 2016 Rio Olympic Games and the 2014 Asian Games at Incheon, South Korea.