SLC status quo to remain until next hearing
Any move to suspend or cancel Sri Lanka Cricket’s (SLC) membership by the Sports Ministry on the recommendation of a six-member committee that investigated incidents related to last year’s ICC T20 World Cup in Australia has been, at least briefly, by the Court of Appeal directing that the status quo of SLC shall be maintained until the next hearing on February 1.
This was after SLC President Shammi Silva and Secretary Mohan de Silva filed a writ application in the Court of Appeal to quash the report of the committee headed by Retired Supreme Court Judge Kusala Sarojini Weerawardena. The petitioners also prayed for the Court to issue an order suspending any decision to cancel the registration of the SLC based on its findings.
The Sports Minister appointed the committee to investigate a litany of alleged wrongdoings among players, officials, and associates during the T20 World Cup. The committee also included former Ministry Secretary Kingsley Fernando, retired DIG Sudath Nagahamulla, retired Rear Admiral Ananda Peiris, former cricketer Nalin de Alwis, and lawyer Shalini Roshana Fernando.
The committee found enough ground to dissolve the SLC. A recommendation was made in the 63-page report to the Minister of Sports to exercise his powers under the Sports Law and regulations promulgated thereunder to suspend, cancel or reenergise SLC’s affiliation with the Ministry.
According to the report, SLC has spent over Rs.65 million to send 16 administrators–which included two paid employees and 14 Executive Committee members–on a joyride to watch the T20 World Cup despite instructions from the Sports Ministry to minimise costs. Although their travel is now being questioned, the Ministry had earlier approved it.
Among those who went are President Shammi Silva, Secretary Mohan de Silva, Vice Presidents Jayantha Dharmadasa and Raveen Wickremaratne, Treasurer Lasantha Wickremasinghe, CEO Ashley de Silva, COO Jerome Jayaratne and Executive Committee members Sujeewa Godaliyadda, Cryshantha Kapuwatte, Janaka Pathirana, Thilak Waththuhewa, Samantha Dodanwela, Priyantha Algama, Bandula Dissanayake, Rear Admiral Nishantha de Silva and Nalin Aponsu.
Some traveled in an official capacity to attend various meetings held by the International Cricket Council (ICC) in conjunction with the World Cup but the majority were on a fully paid holiday.
The investigators also advised the Minister to carry out an independent audit into the alleged expenditure and urged it to seize board documents to ensure evidence was not destroyed. Legal actions have been recommended against those involved in the embezzlement of funds.
However, without exercising his powers, the Minister sought advice from the Attorney General’s Department to decide the next course of action. The report was only sent to the AG’s department on Thursday. AG’s department sources said it will appoint a committee comprising criminal and civil lawyers to study the findings.
SLC is the richest sports body in the country. Its President recently publicly claimed to have a balance of US$ 40 million in its coffers, a major improvement, having gone through a period of bankruptcy after co-hosting and hosting two World Cups in 2011 and 2012 in the country.