PIL states that more than 300 members of the SCA are either family members, relatives and friends of former office bearer Niranjan Shah. (File)
The Gujarat High Court on Thursday issued a notice to the chairman and electoral officer of BCCI, the secretary of the Saurashtra Cricket Association (SCA) and the state charity commissioner while acting on a public interest litigation filed by a former Ranji Trophy player, alleging nepotism, misuse of power, lack of transparency by office-bearers of the state association and non-compliance of Lodha Commission recommendations.
The petitioner, Nikhil Rathod from Rajkot, a former first-class player who also represented India at the Junior World Cup, has alleged that membership of the SCA remains confined to a “few family and friends” and that its management and control has remained “in the hands of a single family or its coterie for the past three-four decades ie from the very inception of the SCA.”
Rathod, who was represented by senior advocate Asim Pandya, has stated in his petition that of the more than 300 members who have been enrolled since 1984, when SCA came into existence, most have been family members, relatives and friends of former SCA president Niranjan Shah, who has also held other important posts in BCCI.
Rathod has also stated that following initiation of litigation in the Supreme Court, SCA passed a resolution in 2013-2014 whereby “all the children of the existing members were given life membership whether they are involved in cricketing activities or not.” The current SCA president is Niranjan's son, Jaydev Shah, while Niranjan's nephew holds the post of secretary, as per the petitioner.
The petitioner also claimed that elections were not held for more than 20 years and that Niranjan is “manipulating the procedure by appointing the existing governing body members by rotation.”
He sought that the September 2019 election held for the SCA board be declared void ab-initio and contrary to the stipulations of the prior apex court judgment. The petitioner has also complained that the Saurashtra Cricket Trust was created by the office-bearers for “diverting the funds and retaining power,” and has further highlighted that money remained unutilised for district and rural cricket and extravagant expenses from the public fund and grant from BCCI was used for personal purposes. Rathod has also submitted that though SCA claims to be a “charitable” body, it has yet to be registered under the Gujarat Public Trust Act, 1950 “so as to avoid public scrutiny and consequences..”
The petitioner has also submitted that SCA has no Apex Council, in contravention of Supreme Court's directions. Out of 17 district cricket associations, only one has been enrolled as a member, the petitioner further submitted. Rathod has prayed for the court's direction, order and/or writ directing the state government to appoint a special and independent auditor to take a look at the SCA accounts for the last 10 years - more particularly, in respect of the grant received from BCCI.