The first round matches of the ICC World Twenty20 began today, with Delhi as one of the venues of the main round. However, given the problems plaguing the Delhi and District Cricket Association (DDCA), the governing body for cricket in the city, this could not have come at a more unfortunate time. Amidst growing accusations of corruption, over 100-odd employees of the organisation have gone on indefinite strike, and a Delhi High Court has vacated a stay order, calling for the demolition of a structure at the Ferozeshah Kotla stadium in Delhi.
In May 2012, former cricketer and Member of Parliament Kirti Azad wrote to the then-minister of state for corporate affairs, RPN Singh, complaining of the “accounting mess” within the DDCA. In December last year, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) issued a one-line statement stating that Azad had been suspended for “anti-party activities.” The cricket association, led by current Finance Minister Arun Jaitley for 14 years (1999-2013), had “suffered from scores of infraction of rules, procedure, fiscal indiscipline, misgovernance, maladministration, and siphoning away of funds from the coffers of DDCA,” claimed Azad.
Part of this can be attributed to the lack of transparency with which the organisation has been managed. Those unfamiliar with the opacity behind which the DDCA operates do not realise the huge benefits they enjoy by gifting free match tickets, said Pramod Jain, a DDCA member for over 30 years. “They give them to a variety of people—politicians, ministers, lawyers, judges, the police, municipal corporation, and MTNL, etc—to either build or consolidate their personal relations that come in handy when they need these people for their personal work.” Jain then told me of a DDCA functionary who had gotten the building of a middle school run by him extended without the mandatory approvals from the municipal and fire departments.
Take, for instance, the allegations made in the Jai Karan Singh vs DDCA case of 2010 where Jai Karan Singh, one of DDCA's oldest members, had challenged the "arbitrary ways" the association's executive committee issued complimentary tickets and sought a ceiling on it. The sixth page of the 12-page Delhi High Court order, dated 13 January 2010, reads: “…the defendant”—DDCA—“had issued 25,288 complimentary passes as against 14,997 tickets sold and the value of the passes was not less than Rs 20 crores whereas sale proceeds which they are showing to have been received by sale of tickets is only Rs 3.25 crores.” This was in reference to the India versus England One-Day International game played at the 42,000-capacity Ferozeshah Kotla stadium on 28 March 2006.
If these figures are correct, then a simple calculation tells us that the DDCA possibly “lost” at least Rs 16.75 crore, assuming the free passes distributed were worth no more than Rs 20 crore. The second page of the same order, written by Justice Manmohan, mentions a prediction made by Jaitley, 12 days before that match, that “the number of seats that would be put to public sale in the forthcoming one-day match between India and England on 28.03.2006 would be the highest that has ever been subjected to sale in the history of this stadium.” The case dragged on till January 2010 when, not surprisingly, the court rejected the DDCA plea to dismiss Singh’s application while giving the association further directions.