By Qaiser Mohammad Ali
New Delhi, Nov 12 (IANS) On its recent ‘mini elections’, the Delhi and District Cricket Association (DDCA) splurged a humongous amount — well over Rs. 27 lakh, with Rs.15 lakh being paid to electoral officer Navin B. Chawla alone. The recent expenditure is 13 times more than the amount the DDCA spent on the much larger elections in 2018 — only around Rs.2 lakh.
In the full-fledged elections in 2018, when all 12 posts of the apex council were contested, DDCA had paid Rakesh Mehta, a 1975-batch IAS officer of UT cadre and a former Chief Secretary of Delhi, Rs. 2 lakh, said a source involved closely with the elections at the time. And, now, when elections for only six posts were held, the DDCA spent a total of Rs.27.68 lakh, confirmed a couple of council members.
“Of Rs.27.68 lakh, Chawla, a former Chief Election Commissioner of India, was paid Rs.15 lakh, his two assistants Rs.3 lakh each, advocate Gautam Dutta, who also assisted in the elections, was paid Rs.5 lakh, while Rs.1.68 was spent on tenting, including erecting of six booths for polling,” a DDCA apex council member told IANS.
Interestingly, before the elections the DDCA apex council had, in September, disengaged Dutta, standing counsel and legal retainer, along with another counsel, Ankur Chawla, “with immediate effect” to check the expenditure.
The previous DDCA Ombudsman, Justice (retired) Deepak Verma, had proposed the payment for the latest elections in March and the association’s apex council accepted it.
“With regard to the remunerations to be paid to Mr Navin Chawla, looking at his stature, the amount of work involved, and experience in this field, I propose that Mr Chawla be paid a lumpsum Rs.15,00,000 in total for conducting the elections. His assistants may be paid Rs.3,00,000 each in total and the secretary be paid 10 per cent of what is being paid to Mr Chawla,” Justice Verma wrote in his ‘directions to the apex council’ on March 8.
Justice Verma has since been replaced by Badar Durrez Ahmed, a former Chief Justice of Jammu and Kashmir High Court.
Also, despite the exorbitant fee paid to Chawla and his assistants this time, the DDCA voters’ list, officially approved, left a lot to be desired. Quite bizarrely, it contained names of hundreds of dead members, including Arun Jaitley – his son Rohan has been elected president — Chetan Chauhan, Test players Rakesh Shukla and Man Mohan Sood, DDCA general secretary Surinder Singh Sareen, and Dhruv Batra, son of Narinder Kumar Barta, a former DDCA treasurer and current president of the Indian Olympic Association.
And, despite so much money being spent on the electoral process, the results of the latest elections were inexplicably delayed and were officially declared more than 24 hours, though the contesting candidates were internally told about it on the morning of November 10, say senior DDCA apex council members.
A couple of apex council members confirmed that all payments have been made. “The apex council had accepted the proposal of Justice Verma with regard to the fee of Mr Chawla and his assistants. And payments have been made,” two council members told IANS.
S.K. Mendiratta, one of Chawla’s two assistants and a former legal advisor to the Election Commission of India, independently confirmed receiving his payment.