Azharuddin hits back; Ombudsman Justice Verma disqualifies 5 members of Apex Council

Abhijit Sen Gupta
Abhijit Sen Gupta

Hyderabad: The affairs of the Hyderabad Cricket Association took yet another twist as the Ombudsman Justice Deepak Verma, issued a temporary disqualification order on five members of the HCA’s Apex Council. The five members are Vice President John Manoj, Secretary R. Vijayanand, Joint Secretary Naresh Sharma, Treasurer Surender Agarwal and Councillor P. Anuradha. 

The five members mentioned above are already facing an enquiry under Rule 41 (1) (b) by the Ombudsman.

Today’s order is being seen as a tit-for-tat move by the HCA President Mohammed Azharuddin on whom a similar order had been issued by the above-mentioned five members of the Apex Council. It may be recalled that about two weeks ago, these five members of the Apex Council had suspended Azharuddin for alleged violation of its constitution and conflicts of interest in connection with a team from Dubai. 

However, the validity of the suspension could be in doubt as only the general body of a state unit has the powers to suspend a sitting president and not the Apex Council.

Now the interesting thing will be to see the reaction of the five Apex Council members. Will they abide by the disqualification of the Ombudsman ? The question arises because they have their own Ombudsman who is Justice Kakru. So this counter move by HCA President Azharuddin may well result in a stalemate.

Azhar had stated in the past that his wish was to conduct the game in a transparent way and stamp out the corruption and malpractice which had brought disrepute to the HCA. At a press conference he had stated that the next move will be made by the Ombudsman Justice Verma and today’s step is obviously a follow up to the statement made by Azharuddin at the earlier press conference.

Justice Verma issued a statement which read: “I would like to make it clear that, just because these five members believe that I am not the ombudsman, does not take away my powers which have been confirmed by the HC judgment and the minutes of the 85th AGM . These members cannot evade the due process of law just by stating that they don’t agree to my appointment.”

Justice Verma also directed former Indian skipper Azharuddin to continue as President of the HCA. “I direct that Mohd. Azharuddin shall continue as President and all complaints shall only be decided by the Ombudsman.” 

So now the ball is in the other court and it remains to be seen what the reaction will be from the other camp.

Abhijit Sen Gupta is a seasoned journalist who writes on Sports and various other subjects.