Nominated member of the TT Cricket Board (TTCB) and former national cricketer Zaheer Ali is questioning the legitimacy of the Independent Review Committee (IRC) recently established to look at the constitution of the local cricketing body.
In a statement, Ali said, “Based on the fiduciary duties and obligations of a member and in my respectful view, the appointment and submission of the IRC’s report attract serious constitutional and legal concerns which questions the legitimacy and independence of the IRC and places the IRC’s report in uncertainty.”
The TTCB was expected to distribute the IRC to its members and a meeting is expected to be held next Friday to discuss the contents of the report.
On February 22, the committee – comprising chairman Justice Vasheist Kokaram, former TTCB president Ellis Lewis and journalist Dr. Sheila Rampersad – submitted a 165-page document to Azim Bassarath, president of the TTCB and members of his executive last week.
The report recommends sweeping changes within the TTCB, including changes to its Constitution.
According to Ali, the TTCB’s president, under Article 13.02 (IV) of the TTCB’s Constitution, convened a special meeting of the board on August 10, 2017, to discuss the constitutionality of the TTCB Executive raised by a member.
Ali said, as a member, he received no prior notice or disclosure of the resolution and was denied the opportunity to effectively respond to the resolution when it was tabled for adoption.
“The resolution appointed an Independent Review Committee (IRC) comprising identified persons to look at the governance structure of the TTCB.
“There is uncertainty as to how this resolution was conceptualised and who was/were responsible for the introduction of this resolution placing the integrity of the resolution in question.
“Without prejudice and with the greatest respect for the caliber of the persons identified, the resolution imposed on the TTCB members, the persons who would comprise the IRC without giving the TTCB members a fair opportunity to participate in the selection or to safely consider and recommend other suitable persons to ensure the true independence and impartiality of the intended process.”
Ali said interestingly there were 25 members out of a total of 49 members present for the meeting with 20 in favour, four abstentions and one objection to the resolution.
“In my humble view, the chairman’s decision to amend the agenda for the meeting, during the meeting, to accommodate a resolution that was significant and impactful may have amounted to a breach of the principles of natural justice and the duty of care to the TTCB and the general public.” “It may also have amounted to an unreasonable, irregular or improper exercise of discretion, abuse of authority, an ambush to the members present and an act in bad faith to the members who were unavoidably not in attendance.
“The resolution vaguely expressed the appointment of an Independent Review Committee (IRC) to carry out an impartial and independent examination of the TTCB governance structure but failed to indicate what the resolution was intended to achieve or what was the true purpose of the resolution considering that there is an ongoing judicial review matter (with certain articles of the TTCB Constitution already under review by the court).”
Former West Indies cricketers Dinanath Ramnarine and Daren Ganga have taken the TTCB to court, contending that specific articles of the TTCB’s constitution governing the election process are unconstitutional. The election of a new executive was stopped on October 29, 2016.
Ali, in his statement said, “Notwithstanding that the parties are open to explore alternate dispute resolutions methods; same must be exercised with respect for the court processes and on proper legal advice to avoid any possible issues of contempt or abuse of the court processes.”
He said the question on the fairness of and legal justification for the appointment of the IRC was brought to the attention of the TTCB’s executive but it was not responded to.
Ali said to compound the concerns, and to “demonstrate the negligent conduct” one of the terms of reference contained in the resolution for the IRC appeared to be inconsistent with the TTCB Constitution.
“One of the terms of Reference instructs that the TTCB should meet within ten (10) days of receipt of the report to make a final determination on its recommendations. It is clear from the TTCB Constitution Article 29 that any addition, alteration or amendment to propose to the Constitution requires that the General Secretary give due notice to the members which shall not be less than 14 days clear before the date of the meeting. “In addition, according to the terms of reference, the IRC was supposed to submit their recommendations within 45 days of their appointment which has long expired with no evidence of Board approval for an extension of time or to amend the resolution.”