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BCCI's accounts not frozen, NZ series should go on: Justice Lodha

Last updated on: October 04, 2016 15:03 IST

'We have not frozen the accounts of BCCI, we have directed the BCCI to not disburse funds to the state association.'

Justice Rajendra Mal Lodha

IMAGE: Justice Rajendra Mal Lodha. Photograph: PTI

The Justice Lodha Committee on Tuesday confirmed that it had not frozen the bank accounts of Board of Control for Cricket in India but had only blocked it from making two payments from its accounts.

Following local media reports that quoted unnamed BCCI officials as saying they might have to cancel the ongoing series against New Zealand, former chief justice Rajendra Mal Lodha said on Tuesday the BCCI's accounts had not been frozen and they were free to use its funds for "routine expenditure".

The panel, headed by Lodha, ordered banks to halt the disbursements after the BCCI ignored some of the panel's recommendations for reforming the world's richest board, which has been criticized for a perceived lack of transparency.

Fuming at the defiance of its recommendations, the Lodha panel had 'directed' banks, where BCCI holds accounts, not to disburse 'large' funds to the state associations, a decision taken by the Board at its Special General Meeting on September 30.

However, Lodha clarified: "We have not frozen the accounts of BCCI, we have directed the BCCI to not disburse funds to the state association. Day to day affairs, routine expenditure, matches, games, that should go on. There is absolutely no prohibition."

"So far as our email and directions are concerned, it does not restrain BCCI from incurring routine expenditure and expenses on games, matches, series etc," Lodha told India Today news channel.

"I'm clarifying that BCCI should not have any doubt that they are free to deal with their bank accounts so far as game and routine matters are concerned. There is absolutely no restraint direction by us," he added.

The BCCI, however, argued that state associations are depended on the parent body for organising matches and they are unable to carry on their functioning in the wake of the latest directive from the Lodha panel, affecting their preparations for the upcoming games in the ongoing series against New Zealand.

"The members are pained at the treatment meted out to them. They are depended on BCCI's funds for organising matches. So far seven associations have communicated their inability to host games in the home season while nine of them have inquired about the matter. If things are the way they are, the series (against New Zealand) could called off by today (Tuesday) evening," a senior BCCI official told PTI.

"There is too much interference at the moment. People need to realise India has become a cricketing super power under BCCI's administration. We are the only sports body which has not taken a single penny from anyone including the government. We have created all the infrastructure on our own," the senior Board functionary added.

The all out war between Lodha panel and BCCI took an uglier turn after the panel, in its letter on Monday, told the banks to block BCCI's payments to the state bodies.

"It has come to the notice of this Committee that certain decisions have been taken at the 'Emergent Working Committee' meeting of the BCCI on 30th September 2016 to disburse large funds to the various member associations," the panel had written.

"You are also aware that the BCCI has chosen to breach the judgment of the Hon'ble Supreme Court as well as the first set of Timelines set out by this Committee which includes the Fund Disbursement policy to be framed by 30.9.2016.

"As the status report is to be taken up for directions by the Hon'ble Court on Thursday, 6.10.2016, you are hereby directed not to take any steps towards financial disbursement of the amounts as solved/approved after the direction dated 31.8.2016. Any violation of this direction will be placed before the Hon'ble Supreme Court for appropriate directions," it added.

On Tuesday, the Indian Express newspaper quoted an unnamed board official as saying that the BCCI's accounts had been frozen and that the rest of the New Zealand series would have to be scrapped.

"How can we function, how can we hold any games now?" the official said. "Who will make the payment? Freezing a bank account is no joke. An international team is here, and there is so much at stake."

A New Zealand Cricket spokesman said they had heard nothing from the BCCI.

"It's the first time we've heard of it," the spokesman told local media. "At the moment we are preparing to play the third Test at Indore as scheduled."

IMAGE: BCCI president Anurag Thakur. Photograph: Shailesh Andrade/Reuters.

The BCCI is on the backfoot in the ongoing tussle with the Lodha Committee, which has filed a status report in the apex court asking for the removal of the Board's entire top brass for violating its recommendations in the September 30 SGM.

With the Lodha panel also suggesting a 15-day window before and after the Indian Premier League, BCCI president Anurag Thakur warned on Monday that India may have to pull out of next year's Champions Trophy in England if the BCCI implements the Committee's recommendations in toto.

The Champions Trophy is scheduled from June 1-18 and the IPL is likely to end in last week of May.

However, Lodha made it clear that the recommendations won't affect India's participation in the Champions Trophy as the calendar has already being prepared a year back.

"If Champions Trophy calendar was already settled a year back, our recommendations won't affect that," he said.

India sealed the three-Test series against New Zealand 2-0 on Monday with a 178-run victory in Kolkata. The third Test is scheduled to start in Indore on Saturday, with a five-match one-day international series to follow.

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