ESPNCricinfo: New Delhi: Wednesday, February 8, 2017.
RM Lodha: 'There is no account of where these [passes] go, no disclosures, and facts are not brought to public domain' © AFP
The head of the Lodha Committee, RM Lodha, has called for state associations to make public revenue from ticket sales and ensure transparency in the distribution of complimentary passes for cricket matches.
He pointed out that the report of the Lodha Committee - which recommended an exhaustive overhaul of the BCCI's governance and administrative structures on the court's bidding - had asked for steps to be taken to make sure tickets to cricket matches were available to the public at reasonable rates. The culture of passes, according to him, is an easy method to "oblige people who matter".
"Let us remember that complimentary passes reduce the availability of tickets to the public and revenue from their sale,"Lodha, a former Chief Justice of India, was quoted as saying by the Times of India. "It instead goes to friends, government department, and others. A lot of them get these free passes. There is no account of where these go, no disclosures, and facts are not brought to public domain. We all know that complimentary passes are a largesse by the cricket association concerned, given as entitlement to certain sections of society."
Lodha said his committee had raised the following questions to the BCCI: "What is the basis of free tickets and passes being given for games? What proportions of tickets are available to the general public and how is that transparently ensured? What is the policy for giving tickets and passes to governmental and statutory authorities? We have also specified that the ombudsman must redress grievances of the public concerning ticketing."
While Lodha felt doing away with the practice of handing out free passes should be the eventual goal of state associations, he said they could make a "good beginning" towards transparent functioning by providing details of allocation of passes on their websites. "With RTI [the Right to Information Act] not being applicable here, associations must take the initiative to inform the public about distribution of passes, the categories of people who got them, and revenues from ticket sales," he said.
The allocation of complimentary passes has always been a thorny issue for state associations. During the IPL in 2012, the Karnataka State Cricket Association invited the wrath of Bangalore's municipal corporation officials for turning down their request for 450 free passes. More recently, according to reports, Biswarup Dey, the former secretary of Cricket Association of Bengal, alleged that Sourav Ganguly's administration had "unethically" denied him the "allotted quota of complimentary tickets".