On 21 June, the Delhi and District Cricket Association’s (DDCA) executive committee—that manages the daily affairs of the association, comprising SP Bansal, CK Khanna and Chetan Chauhan as its vice-president, passed a resolution rejecting the report of the internal fact-finding committee of the association, which had raised multiple allegations of financial irregularities against the cricketing body.
The fact-finding committee report released on 29 December 2014, held that Bansal, the president of DDCA, and its general secretary Anil Khanna had siphoned off Rs 1.5 crore from the DDCA coffers in a “gross violation of settled practice.” Another report, filed on 19 September by a committee constituted by the Delhi government, echoed the findings. Additionally, as per the resolution, allegations against Bansal of irregularities in the sale of IPL tickets have also been “dropped in toto”—in whole.
With the new resolution, the DDCA has, in one clean swoop, invalidated the fact-finding committee’s report and given a clean chit to its president and general secretary. The DDCA has been mired in issues of fiscal and procedural mismanagement for over three decades now and seems disinclined to get its affairs in order.
A large part of this alleged mismanagement came under the nearly 14-year presidential tenure of the current finance minister Arun Jaitley. He joined the DDCA in 1997, and in 1999, took over as the president. Veteran cricketers such as Kiran Azad and Bishan Singh Bedi—both members of DDCA—had initially, hoped that he would sort out the mess within the DDCA. Their hopes were in vain—Jaitley did little to improve the association’s corporate governance.
In fact, now that the Supreme Court is taking up the mantle of cleaning up the dirt within the national cricketing board and its state units, Jaitley has made all attempts possible to distance himself from his former post of leadership in the controversial state association. He recently said that he was a non-executive chairman before the Serious Fraud Investigation Office, and hence uninvolved with the daily affairs of the DDCA—a claim that has found few takers. The Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal has often called Jaitley out for his alleged role in the scam. In turn, the finance minister hit back with civil and criminal defamation suits.
The executive-committee resolution states that there was nothing “illegal or irregular” about the transfer of Rs 1.5 crore, adding that the money was invested for better returns and in the interest of DDCA.
The resolution unilaterally rejects the findings of the fact finding committee. After making an intensive enquiry into the books of the association for the financial year 2014 and three quarters thereafter, the fact-finding committee pointed out massive fiscal irregularities in the DDCA.
The report says that, on 30 January 2014, payments of Rs 52.10 lakh, Rs 53.50 lakh and 49.90 lakh were to three companies: Vidhan Infrastructure Private Ltd, Shri Ram Tradecom Private Ltd and Maple Infrareality Private Ltd. Later that year, in December, Bansal told the executive committee of the association that the money had been returned by the end of the financial year in March, and the accounts had been squared off.
However, the fact-finding committee found that the cheques presented by the three companies were never presented to the banks for clearance. Instead, the actual payments were received in the DDCA’a bank accounts much later, on 5 and 8 July 2014. The report states: “this further indicates that the cheques were sent to the association just for squaring off the amount at the end of the financial year and the intention was never there to return the money on 31/03/2014.”
When questioned the executive committee—which he presides over—Bansal said that it was an “investment made by him for earning interest.” This is irregular, given that there is no supporting document or proof to show that the amounts the DDCA later received were indeed an investment. When the general secretary Anil Khanna was questioned on the fund transfer, he said that they were payments made on behalf of the Board of Control for Cricket in India.
Instead of receiving interest on the so-called investment of Rs 1.5 crore, the amount received in the DDCA’s accounts in July 2014 actually fell short by Rs 10,000. However, this deficit was later made up, along with interest calculated at the rate of 15 percent. The date on which the complete amount was remitted is not known. “It is pertinent to mention here in that despite keeping the money for good more than months no interest has been paid on it, which further shows that money was never transferred with an intent to earn interest, but with some other ulterior motives,” the report notes.
In a story published on 3 January 2015 in the Times of India, Ravinder Manchanda, the treasurer of the DDCA, told the newspaper that the amount paid to these companies was transferred to Ratan Industries, a company owned by Bansal. In a December 2015 story, Manchanda told the Indian Express: “Bansal returned the money only after questions were raised by the executive committee and the internal audit.” He went on to say that the clandestine manner in which the money was transferred was suspicious, and that Bansal “returned the money only after he was caught.” The same story also established that the three companies were dummy companies, and that the addresses registered for them were false.
The executive committee resolution vindicates Bansal and Khanna by claiming that the decision to invest this money was duly discussed, and that no specific resolution announcing the decision was passed because a few senior members of the executive committee had given their consent. Additionally, Bansal and Khanna’s stint with the DDCA has received a fillip. The resolution went on to observe that the members of the executive committee were unanimous in that “all complaints, police complaints, FIRs, suits, litigations of any nature being filed or contested by DDCA executive board members, against DDCA executive board directors and office bearers seeking relief” concerning allegations of financial impropriety against Bansal and Khanna should be dropped.
Besides siphoning funds, another alleged malfeasance by Bansal has been purportedly swept under the carpet. In the FY 14 and FY 15, DDCA officials—despite being entitled to complimentary tickets—were reportedly using the association’s funds to purchase IPL tickets from GMR Sports Pvt Ltd, the owner of IPL franchise Delhi Daredevils, for matches held at the Ferozeshah Kotla stadium. These tickets, according to Sameer Bahadur who spoke to the paper DNA in December last year, were being sold in black by the members, who minted “enormous money from its sale.”
Even on the count of alleged illegal sales of IPL tickets, all allegations and consequent proceedings initiated against Bansal have been dropped. The members of the executive committee stated that they were “convinced” that the decision to purchase tickets from GMR was under due authority of the general secretary and the president, and that the decisions were taken in the interests of the DDCA.
Hopefully, just because the DDCA has passed a resolution giving itself a free pass does not mean other authorities investigating the body will deal with it in the same manner. In an email to me on 27 June, Azad told me that the several agencies, “including CBI, Supreme Court, Registrar Of Companies, Delhi Police etc.” were in possession of the papers regarding the case. “The manipulation of the case through a resolution, through a give-and-take arrangement will not help Bansal in any manner. Rather, all of them will be hauled up for perjury and fraud apart from forgery of documents if they attempt to do so, at the behest of invisible masters.”
He further stated that the CBI is already probing the three fake companies through which Bansal had “spirited away” Rs 1.5 crores. “These companies are merely front companies who were being paid crores of rupees in the name of repair & maintenance by DDCA over the years,” Azad wrote. “In short, all these payments were also routed out by Bansal without the rest of the Directors ever coming to know about it.”
With the Supreme Court reserving its judgment yesterday on the matter of irregularities and misadministration with the BCCI and its state units, a number of true cricket enthusiast in Delhi are hoping that DDCA’s end game will start soon.
Kaushal Shroff is a former fact checker at The Caravan.