The controversies sorrounding IPL have now gone beyond the normal dispute and raised several legal issues including match fixing and betting.

The BCCI authorities have taken a decision to suspend Mr Modi over e-mail and  conducting the IPL Governance Council meeting in his absence. It is obvious that Mr Modi will challenge the legality of this meeting.

It is interesting to note that Mr Modi has been suspended not through a proper notice in writing but with an e-mail. We are aware that the ITA 2008 requires that any e-mail document to be valid in law it needs to be digitally signed. One is certain that this is not the case with the notice now served and gives a valid ground for Mr Modi to challenge the validity of the notice. BCCI will however provide ancillary evidences and try the principle of “Estoppel” against the tech savvy Modi so that he cannot deny knowledge of the e-mail.

This is not the first time that BCCI has betrayed their lack of legal acumen. It may be recalled that during the Saurav-Chappel controversy, e-mails were freely used during disciplinary meetings as evidences on the basis of which far reaching decisions were taken. During such meetings some of the defendants produced e-mails from third party e-mail accounts which prima-facie indicated that they had actually obtained unauthorised access to some body elses’ e-mail account. Such illegally obtained electronic documents were used as evidences and actions taken.

This is the tip of the iceberg which indicates that “Law Compliance” is not one of the strengths of BCCI. In fact doubts have been raised on the manner in which meetings are conducted, disciplinary action is taken some time against players and officials, on the taxable nature of the organization, on the fact whether BCCI is a private body or answerable to the public etc. In view of the involvement of many politicians, many of these questions have been buried under the carpet and BCCI has emerged as an example of how organizations can thrive without being law compliant in India.

There are no two opinions that this state of affairs need to be corrected and IPL as well as BCCI should be now put on a regualtory platform and made accountable to the public. Since BCCI wants exclusive control on the organization of Cricket which was a right allowed to be exercised during the ICL controversy by the politicians who were supportive of Mr Modi at that point of time, there is a need for the Government to enforce a regulatory regime.

I suggest that considering the scale of operations that BCCI represents, it is necessary for the Parliament to set up a “Cricket Regulatory Authority of India” (CRAI) on the lines of IRDA or TRAI and provide powers to ensure that public interest is taken care of.

It goes without saying that the CRAI needs to be constituted in such a manner that the same politicians and officials who are now controlling the BCCI today cannot control the affairs of CRAI. One condition therefore is that no person who is a member of any of the associations of BCCI shall be a member of the CRAI. CRAI will however be free to appoint advisors for itself which may include if necessary former cricketers such as Venkataraghavan, Kapil Dev, Pataudi or Vishwanath or any other person they deem fit to include as consultants.

The body of IPL as it exists today needs to be completely disbanded and a new CEO should be appointed as a professional. There could be Vice Presidents and General Managers to handle all the requirements and there is no requirement for the post of an IPL Commissioner. The CEO may report directly to a Board of Directors of IPL (Which could be the GC) which in turn report to BCCI. BCCI in turn should be answerable to CRAI. CRAI should have representation from Cricket supporting public the way “At Large Members” are represented in the ICANN board.

Since it is apparent that the franchise bids even in 2008 were rigged, the current franchise contracts have to be cancelled and fresh auctions have to be held before IPL 2011. The existing franchisees may be compensated with a certain return on investments over the last three years in the form of “Guaranteed Return Coupons” which can be traded by them with the new bidders. These “Guaranteed Return Coupons” may provide a sweat equity of 5% in the holdings of the new bidders if the existing franchisees lose out in the bid.

The current developments indicate that there is a large scale commercialization of the sports to the extent that the game itself is becoming inconsequential. This is the reason why betting and match fixing will thrive unless the “Game” is given the “Pride of Place” in the IPL and not “How Much Money is made”.  One indication of this corruption to the core is the requirement of Commentators repeatedly advertising MRF Blimp which is a disgusting form of commercialization. The renaming of a Six as DLF Maximum indicates that  we may not be surprised that the game itself may be re christined as “Sony Show” instead of “Cricket”. The Indian Cricket fan has a stake in this unwanted corruption of the game.

Details of how the new system can be structured to the satisfaction of all stake holders is a matter of innovative financial engineering and can be addressed if it becomes necessary.

I hope that the current controversy will be positively used to cleanse the system totally. If BCCI manages some face saving cosmetic changes and our politicians support the same, it will be a tragedy of a missed opportunity.

Naavi of naavi.org

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