SC verdict on BCCI, judicial overreach

The sacking of BCCI president Anurag Thakur, secretary Ajay Shirke and other office-bearers by the Supreme Court may seem to many as just desserts for mismanagement, irregularities and defiance of the court.

Thakur will also face contempt of court and perjury charges. But even while it can be argued that there were lapses and offences on the part of the BCCI, it is equally true that the series of actions taken by the Supreme Court in dealing with the cricket body are not right and proper. The court was riled by the fact that the BCCI did not implement the recommendations of the Lodha committee which it had appointed to reform the body. But what was the locus standi of that committee to demand a change in the way the BCCI functioned? The BCCI is an autonomous body formed under the Societies Act and the court, just as the government, has no authority to interfere in its functioning.

The BCCI president, secretary and other office-bearers are elected on the basis of its bye-laws. If they have violated the rules or otherwise shown themselves to be unfit for their positions, they should be removed through the proper prescribed procedure. There were no corruption charges against them. In fact, there is no legally sustainable basis for the court for removing them. The Lodha committee had no authority to make the recommendations and the court should not have removed the BCCI office-bearers. It could have instructed that the BCCI should be run in accordance with the provisions of the Societies Act. The autonomy of the institutions in any field should be respected. It is in the best interest of fields like sports that bodies that promote activities in those fields are given autonomy. External interference and violation of their autonomy are harmful for the development of these areas.

The Supreme Court’s action against the BCCI is a case of judicial overreach because the court has gone out of its jurisdiction to take the action. It is not for the court to run a sports body or to prescribe how it should be run. It is not disputed that sports bodies, like all other bodies, should have transparency and accountability. The functioning of the BCCI needed to improve also. But the court should not take that responsibility on itself. The judiciary has a specific role assigned to it by the Constitution. It should not encroach into the areas of the executive and the legislature. There is wisdom in not doing what should not be done as much as in taking the right action where it is needed.

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