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    Feb 2010

    Default Ministry may take 'India' out of BCCI

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    New Delhi: If in the near future the government withdraws the word 'India' from the Board of Control for Cricket in India ( BCCI), don't be surprised.

    Yes, that's possible as there are strong indications from the sports ministry, which is determined to ensure that the cashrich board adheres to the guidelines meant for all national sports federations ( NSFs).

    And if the issue reaches a flashpoint, the BCCI would not be able to field a 'national' team. It could also mean that Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Co. would possibly no more represent their country. If the richest sports body of the country remains adamant, it could lead to a legal battle with the government.

    BCCI, at a special general body meeting on Saturday in Mumbai, decided not to reply to the ministry's letter and decided that it would go for legal opinion if pressurised further.

    In its 78-year-old existence, the BCCI has probably never been dependent on the sports ministry.

    Even now it's not - BCCI's income in 2009-10 alone was Rs 847 crore - but the ministry says the board can no longer snub it by remaining snooty and unanswerable to the government.

    In a letter to the board, the ministry points out that all NSFs have been declared as "public authorities" and, therefore, the BCCI too has to comply with the guidelines.

    All federations have to reply by Wednesday.

    The ministry also points out that last year, too, the BCCI had not replied to a similar letter.

    "But this time we will go the full distance and if the cricket board doesn't fall in line with the age and tenure guidelines, the government would invoke the National Emblem Act as the BCCI uses the word 'India' in its name," a source told MAIL TODAY . "The BCCI can use 'India' only till the time the government permits it, though it's a different issue that successive governments have been lenient with it. If the BCCI doesn't abide by its policies, made from time to time, the government would be compelled to invoke the National Emblem Act," he said.

    The 'emblem' means any emblem, seal, flag, insignia coatof - arms, or pictorial representation specified in the 'schedule', which further provides details of what all falls under its purview.

    When contacted, Injeti Srinivas, joint secretary in the sports ministry, said that it was mandatory for the BCCI to register itself as it receives government patronage in various forms, like police deployment during matches, entertainment tax concessions and waiver on customs duties for import of sports goods, and other benefits.

    "They may be having some apprehension with regard to registration.

    But, basically, it is necessary for them also," Srinivas told MAIL TODAY . "Any entity that says it is an NSF will have to have the acceptance of the ministry. It happens worldwide. They have to get the recognition to represent the country. You have to... legally... it is there everywhere in the world.

    It doesn't interfere with their [BCCI's] autonomy or anything.

    For legitimacy, it is necessary." Asked what the ministry's next move would be if BCCI declines to register itself, Srinivas said: "That is a hypothetical question. But there has been a total change... a total shift... in the sports administration [in India]. Earlier, the Indian Olympic Association and everyone else had declined, but the situation has now changed." Specifically asked if the word 'India' could be withdrawn from the BCCI and whether the corporate affairs ministry too could come into play since the BCCI enjoys exemption under its Competition Commission, Srinivas said: "Everybody will come into the picture." The BCCI has been ignoring the sports ministry on various issues over the years mainly on the pretext that it doesn't take financial help from it. But Srinivas pointed out that the board does enjoy other privileges.

    "Funding is a separate matter.

    But they [BCCI] enjoy the privileges of an NSF in terms of tax and duty exemptions, [its team] representing the country and special dispensation even from the Competition Commission. Federations have the monopoly by their very nature," he explained.

    "To have those privileges, they'll have to have the recognition. Registration under a state act is sufficient to function as a national sports body. It's a process." Srinivas pointed out that several NSFs, which were opposed to the guidelines, are now adhering to them. "A majority of the federations have already amended their constitution. I don't think they [BCCI] have said 'no'. Once they understand that it is a legal requirement they will abide by it.

    I am quite hopeful," he said.



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