HCA tussle takes a new twist; all eyes are on AGM

Abhijit Sen Gupta
Abhijit Sen Gupta

The tussle over the appointment of an Ombudsman cum Ethics Officer in the Hyderabad Cricket Association has taken a new turn with the Telangana High Court upholding the appointment of Justice Deepak Verma, retired Supreme Court judge, for the post.

Justice M.S. Ramachandra Rao delivered the order setting aside the order of a lower court which had suspended the earlier appointment of Justice Verma.

It may be recalled that last year Mohammad Azharuddin, President of the HCA, had written a letter to Justice Verma referring to his consent to be appointed to the post of Ombudsman cum Ethics officer for a period of one year from the date of taking charge. Azhar had written that the decision to appoint Justice Verma had been taken at the Apex Council meeting in June, 2020. “We are looking forward to your esteemed association with us,” Azhar had written.

Everything seemed to be going smoothly and Justice Verma had agreed to be the Ombudsman cum EO and had given his consent in writing to the Apex Council. All that remained was to get the decision ratified at the AGM of the HCA. But in the meantime another group within the HCA challenged the appointment and got a stay order from the City Civil Court in the month of November, 2020.

A club named Budding Star CC which was affiliated to HCA had moved the civil court contending that the resolution of the Apex Council in appointing Justice Verma was without the authority of law. Following this argument, the civil court had suspended the appointment of Justice Verma. The AGM too got postponed due to the rampant rise of coronavirus cases and the matter could not be speedily resolved.
Court order brings in new angle
But now the imbroglio has taken on a new angle because the High Court has opined that the civil court case which was filed by Budding Star club along with HCA Secretary R. Vijayanand was malafide. The High Court also pulled them up in no uncertain terms. This came after Charminar Cricket Club, also affiliated with the HCA, challenged the order of the Civil Court.

What now remains to be seen is how the warring parties will respond to the new situation. The High Court’s order and its stand on the issue cannot be ignored. Will it influence the thinking of both the sides? Will there be peace at last in the portals of the Hyderabad Cricket Association?

Unfortunately the indications are that the dispute may not be quickly resolved.

According to a source in the HCA, those opposed to the appointment of Justice Verma are not yet ready to give in. They may try to stall the move of the appointment of the Ombudsman when it is required to be ratified at the AGM on Sunday. Hectic parleys are in progress by both sides to gather support for their respective stands ahead of the AGM.

A few days ago while speaking to siasat.com, Arshad Ayub had stated that he was fully agreeable to the appointment of an Ombudsman cum EO. “All that I would like to see is the establishment of a consensus on this matter. It should not be a one sided and unilateral decision. This is the democratic way of functioning and we should all follow it,” he had said.

Today, when contacted by siasat.com both Azharuddin and Shivlal Yadav politely declined to make any comment as the issue concerned a court order which should not be lightly commented upon. This was understandable since laymen’s comments and remarks without legal expertise could have serious implications. But it is open to conjecture that the question about what stand the concerned people will take when the AGM resumes.
What is clear that the appointment of an Ombudsman cum EO has become inevitable. But the question is how long can the matter be stalled. The recommendations of the Lodha Committee must be implemented and the appointment of Ombudsman has to be done sooner or later.

With the AGM scheduled to meet on Sunday, lovers of cricket in Hyderabad are keeping their fingers crossed. Whether better sense will prevail is the million dollar question. Will the President and his office bearers sink their differences and work unitedly to lift Hyderabad cricket from the depths to which it has sunk?  The answer to this vexing question may come when the HCA’s AGM meets again on Sunday.

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