Shakeup at Hyderabad Cricket Association: Justice Rao bars officials of 57 clubs from contesting, voting in upcoming elections

Supreme Court-appointed Justice Nageswara Rao took the unprecedented decision to tackle brazen conflict of interest in Hyderabad cricket.

ByQaiser Mohammad Ali

Published Jul 31, 2023 | 9:16 PMUpdatedJul 31, 2023 | 9:59 PM

HCA Hyderabad Cricket Association ban Clubs election

In an unprecedented decision taken to tackle the brazen conflict of interest in Hyderabad cricket, all existing executive committee members of 57 clubs affiliated to the Hyderabad Cricket Association (HCA) were on Monday, 31 July, barred from either voting or contesting in the upcoming HCA election.

The elections are due, but the dates haven’t been announced so far. The one-man committee appointed by the Supreme Court in February to run the affairs of the messy HCA and clear the path for elections will now appoint a returning officer who will decide on the election dates.

In a damning 46-page report, retired Supreme Court judge L Nageswara Rao has come down heavily on the individuals and families who own or administer multiple clubs, giving rise to rampant conflict of interest.

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What the Nageswara Rao report says

HCA election 57 clubs banned

List of 57 clubs barred from contesting in the HCA election.

“The current office bearers/Executive Committee members of the said clubs are barred from either contesting in the forthcoming elections to the Apex Council of HCA or casting their vote for election to the post of office bearers of HCA. It is made clear that this bar is only for one term of office bearers of HCA or for a period of three years, whichever is higher,” said Justice Rao, a former cricketer himself, in his scathing report.

“No individual/his immediate family members, ie, parents, spouse, siblings, spouses of siblings, children, and spouses of children shall be part of the Executive Committee of more than one club. Any deviation shall be viewed seriously and severe action for expulsion of the membership of the club may be taken by the HCA,” he outlined.

Office-bearers — or Executive Committee members — include those occupying the posts of president, secretary, joint secretary, and treasurer.

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HCA office-bearers caught in conflict-of-interest

Four out of six elected HCA office-bearers, who were ousted when the Supreme Court appointed a Supervisory Committee to manage HCA affairs, have been caught in the conflict-of-interest zone as they have a hand in multiple clubs. They cannot vote or be nominated for the upcoming AGM, as per Justice Rao’s report. They are the vice-president K John Manoj, secretary R Vijayanand, treasurer Surender Kumar Agarwal, and councillor P Anuradha.

K John Manoj (HCA vice-president)

“K John Manoj is Secretary of St Andrews Cricket Club. Holds indirect control over Marredpally Colts Cricket Club simultaneously. Moreover, it was admitted by him that his daughter, Ms Trishala John, is the secretary of Marredpally Colts Cricket Club,” said the report.

Clubs impacted:

  • East Marredpally Cricket Club
  • St Andrews Cricket Club
  • Marredpally Colts Cricket Club
  • Kosaraju Cricket Club

R Vijayanand (HCA secretary)

“Further, in the submissions of Abhinav Colts Cricket Club, it is admittedly clarified that the current secretary, Mr Abhinav Dayanand Rupla, is the son of Mr R Vijayanand, who was the secretary of HCA and is currently the secretary of Dayanand Cricket Club,” read the report.

Clubs impacted:

  • Abhinav Colts Cricket Club
  • Dayanand Cricket Club

Surender Kumar Agarwal (HCA treasurer)

“It was further revealed that president of Agarwal Seniors Cricket Club, Ms Arushi Agarwal is the wife of Devashish Agarwal who is the present president of Hyderabad Titans Cricket Club; Mr Akshit Agarwal who appeared in the capacity of secretary of Akshit Cricket Club is the son of Mr Surender Kumar Agarwal, secretary of Shri Shyam Cricket Club (formerly known as P&T Colony Cricket Club) and Ms Vanitha Agarwal who is the present president of Akshit Cricket Club and treasurer of Jai Bhagwathi Cricket Club [who is related to] Ghanshyamdas Agarwal, secretary of Agarwal Seniors Cricket Club (father of Surender Kumar Agarwal, Pradeep Kumar Agarwal, Sudeep Kumar Agarwal, and Sandeep Kumar Agarwal). On further inquiry, it was also found that Mr Sunil Agarwal, the joint secretary of Jai Bhagwathi Cricket Club is also the secretary of Reliance Cricket Club,” says the report.

Clubs impacted:

  • Akshit Cricket Club
  • Jai Bhagwathi Cricket Club
  • Reliance Cricket Club
  • Shri Shyam Cricket Club (formerly P&T Colony Cricket Club)

P Anuradha (councillor)

“Ms P. Anuradha who appeared as the current secretary of Shanti Associates. There is a direct conflict of interest between all three clubs. It was also admitted by Ms. Anuradha that she is the wife of Mr. P. Yadagiri [HCA treasurer from 1998-10],” the report mentions. “Further, Mr. P. Yadagiri also appeared on behalf of P. Krishnamurthy Memorial Cricket Club. He claims that the secretary of the Club, Mr. Pallemoni Sushant is his son. Such admission is indicative of the existence of clear conflict of interest with the other clubs belonging to the family of M.P. Yadagiri.”

Clubs impacted:

  • New Stars Cricket Club
  • Swastik Cricket Club
  • Shanti Associates Cricket Club
  • P Krishnamurthy Memorial Cricket Club

Among the others impacted is former India spinner and ex-HCA president (2010-12 and 2014-17) Arshad Ayub. His wife, son and daughter were also found to be in conflict of interest with multiple clubs. The clubs, thus, impacted, are: Ensconce Cricket Club, Hyderabad Wanderers Cricket Club, and Green Turf Cricket Club.

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Cricketers not impacted

Justice Rao clarified that cricketers associated with the barred 57 clubs would not be affected and that the clubs would be able to field their teams in competitions, but after fulfilling certain conditions.

“The clubs shall be allowed to field their players and send their teams for participation in HCA leagues and other competitive matches, subject to these clubs changing their Executive Committee, with immediate effect, in order to resolve any existing or potential conflict of interests, ie, the current Executive Committee be replaced by members having no conflict of interest or control or ownership in any other club either through their immediate family relations or through any of their office bearers or close affiliates,” he clarified.

Justice Rao, known for his clean image, said that conflict of interest could lead to corruption.

“Multiple membership of clubs leads to players, matches or tournaments being exposed to possible corruption through match manipulation,” he wrote.

“The practice of owning more than one club has been scrutinised and banned worldwide across multiple sports.”

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All 206 HCA clubs grilled

Justice Rao issued notices to all 206 clubs affiliated to the HCA, seeking information. After presentations and individual appearances, the retired judge found massive conflict of interest and manipulation amongst clubs.

“One of the issues mentioned in the Supreme Court-appointed Supervisory Committee [which preceded Rao’s appointment] report relates to ownership of multiple clubs by an individual/family member. It was mentioned in the said report that 80 clubs are owned by 12 individuals and their family members. The owners of 80 clubs form a coterie controlling elections to key posts to the Apex Council,” lambasted Justice Rao in his report.

In his famous Lodha Committee Report, submitted to the Supreme Court following the 2013 match-fixing-betting scandal, former Chief Justice of India RM Lodha’s three-member committee wrote: “The seriousness of conflict of interest affecting sport cannot be underestimated. While it may seem surprising to the individual administrator or player that their position could be capable of such an interpretation, it is out of abundant caution in the interests of the game that its regulation is mandated.”

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Unanswered questions

While the Executive Committee members of the 57 clubs cannot vote or contest in the upcoming HCA elections, there is a little grey area vis-à-vis their attending the annual general body meeting (AGM).

“The returning officer will take a decision whether or not the impacted officials can attend the AGM,” a source told South First. The final list of clubs who would attend the AGM will also be prepared by the returning officer. “We will only know when the final electoral college is prepared,” he said.

In Hyderabad cricket circles it is being said that an election notice may be issued by 15 August and the process could be completed by mid-September.

It is also important to complete the election process soon as Hyderabad will host three World Cup matches in October.

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No new member since 1986

The full members of the HCA elect the office-bearers of the association. According to the 2019 voters’ list, there are 215 members of the general body with voting rights, apart from players who have represented India, says the report.

“From a perusal of the records, no new members have been admitted after 1986. In the interim report of the Supervisory Committee, it has been mentioned that there are several transfers of clubs which were done either with or without due authorisation, with which we are not concerned at present.”

The term of the HCA’s previously elected Apex Council ended on 26 September, 2022.

The Supreme Court of India on 14 February appointed Justice Rao as the Single Member Committee to ensure that fair and proper elections were conducted to the Apex Council and to administer the affairs of the association.

The 57 clubs

The executive committee members of these clubs are barred: Hyderabad Titans Cricket Club, Vijay Anand Cricket Club, Victoria Cricket Club, Hyderabad Patriots Cricket Club, Hyderabad Panthers Cricket Club, Secunderabad Gymkhana Cricket Club, Mayura Cricket Club, Agarwal Seniors Cricket Club, Akshit Cricket Club, Jai Bhagwathi Cricket Club, Reliance Cricket Club, Shri Shyam Cricket Club (formerly P&T Colony Cricket Club), Mahmood Cricket Club, Sunshine Cricket Club, Lords Cricket Club, Ensconce Cricket Club, Hyderabad Wanderers Cricket Club, Green Turf Cricket Club, Evergreen Cricket Club, Southend Cricket Club, Kishoresons Detergent Cricket Club, Gunrock Cricket Club, Picket Cricket Club, Deccan Blues Cricket Club, Hyderabad Blues Cricket Club, Roshanara Cricket Club, Secunderabad Union Cricket Club, Elegant Cricket Club, Satya Cricket Club, Classic Cricket Club, New Stars Cricket Club, Swastik Cricket Club, Shanti Associates Cricket Club, P Krishnamurthy Memorial Cricket Club, Chums XI Cricket Club, Cheerful Chums Cricket Club, Abhinav Colts Cricket Club, Dayanand Cricket Club, Raju’s Cricket Club, Raju’s Cricket Academy, Raju’s Cricket Centre (formerly St Mary’s Cricket Club), East Marredpally Cricket Club, St Andrews Cricket Club, Marredpally Colts Cricket Club, Kosaraju Cricket Club, Visaka Cricket Club, Vijaynagar Cricket Club, International Cricket Club, Manikumar Cricket Club, Dhruv XI Cricket Club, ML Jaisimha Cricket Club, Andhra Bank Colony Cricket Club, Fateh Maidan Cricket Club, Bharat Cricket Club, Anu Cricket Club, Crown Cricket Club, and Saint Sai Cricket Club

(The writer has covered cricket for over three decades, based in Delhi. He tweets at @AlwaysCricket)