Qaiser Mohammad Ali
Retired justice Mukul Mudgal, appointed by the Delhi High Court to oversee the India-South Africa Test in Delhi, on Saturday clarified that he acted only a ‘messenger’ between the BCCI and the Delhi government for organising a felicitation event for some prominent retired cricketers that was eventually scrapped.
The Delhi government, which had planned to felicitate eight prominent Delhi cricketers who were part of India’s World Cup-winning 1983 and 2011 teams, besides former India captains Bishan Singh Bedi and late Mansur Ali Khana Pataudi, finally cancelled the event.
Mudgal, a retired Chief Justice of Punjab and Haryana High Court, also admitted that initially he and other parties had agreed to hold the function on the same spot, inside the field, where the BCCI had felicitated Virender Sehwag on Thursday. But, he said, later the BCCI denied permission and that he conveyed the same to the Delhi government.
A die-hard cricket fan, Mudgal said that he met Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal on Saturday evening and he expressed “sorry” to him and the Aam Aadmi Party leader said he had “nothing against” the retired judge.
“I met him [Kejriwal] at a function in the evening [on Saturday]. I said I am sorry so much trouble was raked up. He said ‘it was not your fault’ and that ‘we have nothing against you’,” Mudgal told jantakareporter.com.
“I am not against anybody. But if the BCCI puts any restriction, I don’t think my supervision extends to the field of play. Their requirement was that no function should take place during the match. It was slightly different when Sehwag was felicitated the game hadn’t started,” he pointed.
Mudgal concurred with noted lawyer Rahul Mehra, who on behalf of the Delhi government was coordinating with him, the BCCI and the DDCA regarding the event, that initially it was decided that the event too would be held inside the field.
Mehra had told jantakareporter.com that “everything was finalised on Friday morning, at a meeting between Delhi’s deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia, Mudgal, and DDCA officials”, including the area where the function was to be held.
“It was the same place where Sehwag was felicitated by the BCCI before the start of the first day’s play…,” Mehra said.
Mudgal said, “I agree with that; it’s not wrong. It is nothing different from what I am saying.”
Giving his version, which is similar to what Mehra had said, Mudgal said that the Delhi government cancelled the function perhaps because it was told very late about the change of venue.
“First, when the Delhi administration had come [with the function request] we had decided that we would do it in the field [of play], where Sehwag’s felicitation was held,” Mudgal said.
“Yesterday [Friday] evening, one of the officials of the BCCI conveyed to me to get a formal request from the Delhi government, recommend it, and send it to us [BCCI]. I did that, and sent it to the BCCI secretary [Anurag Thakur]. Then I got a mail from the secretary late in the evening, saying that you can do it but do not use the playing field because the Test match is already on,” he said.
Mudgal said that arrangements were then made at the place where photographers sit, next to the boundary line and in front of the Hill B or the Wellingdon Pavilion.
“I informed the Delhi administration, saying that the DDCA is bound by BCCI’s directive,” Mudgal said. “Somehow the Delhi administration did not agree to it. I received a message from Delhi administration, saying that I should assert myself and that the function should take place where it was decided. I replied, saying politely, that ‘look I am not in a position to overrule the BCCI directive. Therefore, we will hold it there [outside the ground] and please do come and attend’.”
Mudgal further said, “It’s not because of me that they backed out – I don’t know why they backed out – and said they were cancelling the function. This is the exact story I am giving you. Perhaps, they didn’t like that fact that it was done late in the evening and changed. But this is my assumption. You should check their version.”