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Does Sachin play for a private society?

A petition in the Delhi High Court says the BCCI’s style of functioning does not befit a national regulatory body

In April 2000, a lawyer, Rahul Mehra, filed a public interest litigation (pil) in the Delhi High Court disputing the BCCI’s contention that they are a private society. The BCCI has always maintained they are a private organisation, and that the government is in no way supporting them. Their annual accounts’ covers shout on top in red colour: “Strictly confidential and not for publicity”. However, the litigation disputed all this.

THE real winner: Dalmiya handing over the World Cup to Steve Waugh in 1999
Indirect government help: Though the board claims to be a private society, the pil argued, they “receive various benefits/concessions from the state or these agencies.” It continues: “Most member associations affiliated to the BCCI have large premises and cricket stadia which have been given on lease to them by the agencies of the state for a very nominal cost.”

“It is by virtue of having possession of such stadia that these bodies are able to stage national or international cricket matches which is not possible for any other organisation or association to stage.”

The petitioners enumerated numerous other reasons why the board cannot be called a private body: first, because it is the state, and its agencies, that provide the security for the matches staged by these associations. Second, the government has exempted entertainment tax to member associations of the BCCI on tickets of cricket matches.

Income tax exemption: The BCCI has enjoyed income tax exemption under Section 10(23) of the Income Tax Act since donkey’s years. The particular section permits tax exemption “if and only if the association or the institution applies its income or accumulates its application, wholly and exclusively, to the objects for which it has been established.” Mehra’s pil argued that the BCCI is not fulfilling its duties completely.

The petitioners analysed the board’s accounts of 10 years to come up with a wide-range of conclusions.

  • Since 1987, the year of the hugely-profitable Reliance Cup, the BCCI’s annual profits grew at the rate of 59 percent — from Rs 5.06 lakh in 1987-88 to Rs 8.37 crore in 1998-99.
  • During the same period, the establishment expenses grew at the rate of 26.5 percent per annum. In 1998-99, the same expenses amounted to
    Rs 1.27 crore.
  • But when it came to real expenses in terms of promotion of the game, there was no increase: in fact, if inflation is adjusted, the expenses had actually dipped. The expenses on coaching had increased from Rs 5.51 lakh in 1983-84 to just Rs 17.89 lakh in 1998-99.
  • Compare this to the United Cricket Board of South Africa (ucbsa), which spends about Rs 4.2 crore on coaching, equipment, transport and facilities.
  • The ddca club recorded liquor sales of over Rs 33 lakh in 1998-99 and sale of cigarettes to the tune of Rs 6.7 lakh. To put things in perspective, more cigarettes were sold in one year than the combined amount spent on coaching in the last 11 years by ddca.
September 25, 2004
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