The BCCI’s freshly unveiled player contracts face the danger of being put on hold with Amitabh Choudhary, the board’s acting secretary, challenging the decision that was approved by the Supreme Court-appointed Committee of Administrators (CoA). Choudhary has accused the CoA of breaking the law and is now planning to approach the court for intervention on the matter.
Choudhary has said none of the board’s three top office-bearers, including him, was consulted or appraised during the negotiating process with the players. A list of 26 players were awarded four different types of contracts, including the newly introduced A+ category for five high-performing players who represent India in all three formats.
That list was drawn up by the three-man selection panel headed by former India wicketkeeper MSK Prasad. However, Choudhary claimed that despite being the convener of the selection panel, he was not privy to the players’ list. “I was not a part of any decision-making process,” Choudhary told ESPNcricinfo. “As far as I know none from the BCCI (office-bearers) was part of the process. I am the convener of the national selection committee. I confirm there was no meeting of the selection panel on the subject.”
Choudhary said the CoA had “broken the law” and that he would bring it “to the knowledge” of the court. “On such a major national issue, where I legally would have been the cutting edge, the interface, and if I don’t have a clue, I cannot keep waiting for the time when I will file an affidavit because it would lead to a lot of damage.”
However, the CoA chairman Vinod Rai has countered Choudhary’s allegation saying the office-bearers were kept in the loop considering the recommendations on the new contracts structure was sent to the BCCI finance committee as early as last September. Rai said no one in the finance committee, which is headed by Jyotiraditya Scindia and includes the BCCI treasurer Anirudh Chaudhry, responded even once. “The finance committee has not even deliberated once for the past five months,” Rai said.
Rai said it was “unfair” to keep postponing awarding the contracts to the players especially since they could not be insured otherwise. “Players have been playing since last October without any contract. The bigger issue was without the contracts the BCCI could not insure them.”
Critics of the CoA in the BCCI say Rai is using the issue of insurance merely as a “ploy”. One BCCI official challenged the CoA to show any communication to the finance committee because the office-bearers were not aware of any such.
According to Choudhary, any decision involving finances ought to be taken by the BCCI’s general body, namely the working committee, which has not met for several months now. Rai agreed that as per rules, issues such as player contracts are first worked out by the board’s finance committee which passes a resolution, which then gets ratified at the board’s annual general meeting.
However, with the BCCI and the majority of the state associations – the board members – failing to implement the Lodha Committee recommendations as mandated by the court, the CoA has barred the AGM. “Yes, but the finance committee should have cleared it and the SGM met twice last year, but they did not do anything,” Rai said.