The BCCI might soon face an identity crisis. That's becasue the Indian Sports Ministry has threatened to withdraw the word "India" from the "BCCI"over the board's refusal to adhere to guidelines laid down for the National Sports Federation (NSF). Such an eventuality would mean that the board will no longer have then authority to field a national cricket team and India captain M S Dhoni and his league of extraordinary gentlemen will be without a country banner!
That's right. If the wealthiest sports body of the country remains stubborn and doesn't bow down to the laws of the land, it could lead to a legal tussle with the government.
At a special general body meeting on convened on Dec 11 in Mumbai, the BCCI decided to ignore the ministry's letter and plans to solicit legal opinion if pressurised further.
In its nearly 80-year-old existence, the BCCI has never been dependent on the sports ministry. Even today, the BCCI's income in 2009-10 alone was Rs 847 crore - but the ministry says the board can no longer snub it by remaining snobbish and unresponsive 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, Dec 15. 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 a news agency . "The BCCI can use 'India' only till the time the government permits it."
When contacted, joint secretary in the sports ministry Injeti Srinivas, said that it was compulsary for the BCCI to register itself as it receives government patronage in various forms. After all, "the board 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." Competition Commission, Srinivas said.