Selector's Age Cap Issue: Bishan Singh Bedi, Kirti Azad Score Moral Win Over Ddca
Wednesday was a day to forget for the Delhi and District Cricket Association (DDCA) as it copped twin embarrassment. A day after former India captain Bishan Singh Bedi wrote to Delhi's parent cricket body to remove his name associated with the Arun Jaitley Stadium and scrap his membership, he - and his former Delhi teammate Kirti Azad - on Wednesday scored a moral victory over an age cap rule that denied Azad the opportunity to become a Delhi selector.
The DDCA seemed to beat a hasty retreat when the issue of the 60-year cap for picking senior selectors for the 2020-21 domestic season was adjudicated by its Ombudsman Justice (retired) Badar Durrez Ahmed, who ruled that the present Ashu Dani-led committee would be allowed to select the Delhi team only for the T20 Syed Mushtaq Trophy that begins on January 10.
This, by inference, means that if the national championship for the Ranji Trophy is played after the T20 Syed Mushtaq Trophy, the DDCA senior selection committee could change.
Justice Badar apparently allowed the present selection committee to pick the Delhi team only because there is a December 25 deadline set by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) for its affiliates to submit their teams' lists.
"It is made clear that the question of legitimacy or otherwise of placing the age bar at 60 years is left open. It is also made clear that the Senior Selectors selected by the CAC [Cricket Advisory Committee] on 19.12.2020 will function as such only for the selection of players for the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy Tournament 2020-21," wrote Justice Badar in his three-page order.
DDCA counsel, Additional Solicitor General of India Aishwarya Bhati, seems to be putting the blame on the Atul Wassan-led CAC as she quoted from the supposedly confidential minutes of the two CAC meetings that give the impression that this committee, and not the DDCA apex council, decided to not call applicants above 60 for interviews.
"She referred to the minutes of the CAC meeting held on 15.12.2020 wherein it is recorded that the CAC decided to 'call for interview only those candidates who strictly fulfill the criteria as being followed by BCCI'. The minutes further recorded that '...any candidate who is more than 60 years of age shall not be considered for the post of selectors on similar line as was done by the CAC of BCCI'," reads the order.
"She also referred to the minutes of the earlier CAC meeting held on 09.12.2020 pursuant to which the applications were invited for various posts including the post of the senior selector. In the minutes it is inter alia recorded as follows: 'After deliberations and discussion the committee unanimously decided that the criteria prescribed in the Articles as well the Lodha Committee Recommendations would be conspicuously followed without deviation any whatsoever. The committee was further of the view that in order to maintain objectivity and consistency, the conditions as being adopted by the BCCI for selection of selectors shall, etc. be adopted and followed by the CAC of DDCA in toto," it said.
However, former India Test pacer Wassan had told IANS on December 17 that the DDCA had told the CAC, also comprising former India speedsters Robin Singh junior and Parvinder Awana, to follow both the DDCA's articles of association as well the BCCI guideline for selection of selectors.
"I have been informed by the DDCA management that we have to follow the DDCA articles of association and the criteria guideline of the BCCI. Hence it's our job as CAC to do the same," Wassan had said.
"I have made my recommendation and point of view on the matter of 60-years limit and on the five years criteria to the DDCA management and CAC have been promised that our suggestion will be reviewed in good time. The upper limit of selectors' age is also harsh as a coach -- and coaching involves a lot of strenuous activity -- can do the job beyond 60 years. Then, why not a selector?" he had wondered.
On Wednesday, after having read the Justice Badar order, Wassan told IANS: "Justice Badar has delivered his order, and we have to abide by it. Now, going forward in the light of this order, if the DDCA asks the CAC - the two entities, i.e. DDCA and CAC can't be seen by separating them - to do something else vis-à-vis the criteria for selection of selectors, we will do that."
Interestingly, the new BCCI constitution, approved by the Supreme Court, puts the age bar at 70 years, and not 60 years, for its office-bearers and all subcommittee members as well as those of its affiliated state associations. Azad submitted this Rule 6(5) with Justice Badar.
"It was also submitted that even the advertisement, pursuant to which Mr. Azad applied, did not specify that persons above the age of 60 years would not be eligible. Thus, according to the complainants, the action of not considering Mr. Azad for the position of the senior selector was illegal and discriminatory," said the order.
The DDCA filed two replies to the two complaints filed by Bedi and Azad, and as is evident from the Ombudsman's order, the association alleged something that Justice Badar took exception to, after which DDCA counsel Bhati withdrew those remarks.
"It is unfortunate that the replies contained allegations against Mr. Bedi and Mr. Azad who are respected senior cricketers of international fame. These allegations were not, in any event, germane to the issue at hand. In fact, Ms. Bhati learned senior counsel for the DDCA, in all fairness, agreed that such allegations had no place and would be withdrawn in writing. Subsequently, a letter dated 22.12.2020 was received from DDCA whereby all such allegations and aspersions stood withdrawn," read the order.
Bhati said Azad's application was rejected only because of the 60-year cap and not for the number of years he has been a selector in the past.