SC to name BCCI admins, modifies order on disqualification

SC to name BCCI admins, modifies order on disqualification

Names of members of the proposed panel to run the administration of cash-rich BCCI would be decided on January 24 by the Supreme Court, which today gave a ray of hope to some disqualified administrators modifying its earlier order that debarred a person having a cumulative tenure of nine years in any state association and BCCI from holding any position in the apex cricket body.

The apex court, headed by then Chief Justice T S Thakur, on January 2 had said that a person was disqualified from holding any post if he "has been an office bearer of BCCI or a State Association for a cumulative period of 9 years".

A newly-set up bench comprising Justices Dipak Misra, A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud today modified the order saying the 9-year tenure of an office bearer in state association or in the BCCI would not be considered cumulatively, giving hope to some administrators who had to demit office on this count.

At the outset, senior advocates Anil Divan and Gopal Subramaniam, who have been appointed as amicus curiae to assist the court, submitted nine names in sealed covers for the proposed panel of administrators which will supervise the administration of BCCI through its Chief Executive Officer.

"We may not have the nine member committee. It may be too large. We hope and trust that there are no names which are above 70 (years of age)," the bench said, adding that at present, it was not deciding or dropping any name.

In a fresh twist to the ongoing legal battle in implementing reforms in BCCI, Railways, armed forces and Association of Universities rushed to the court crying foul over issues including downgrading of their BCCI membership from permanent to associate ones and sought recall of the judgement that had given a nod to the suggestions of Justice R M Lodha panel on structural reforms in BCCI administration.

Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi, representing public bodies which were permanent members to BCCI, said all the three bodies have been "integral constituent" of BCCI and have been promoting cricket and employing cricketers.

"We have not only been downgraded but the rule that no public servant or minister would represent them, are affecting us adversely," he said.

"We have no love for BCCI but larger questions must be addressed and debated by a larger bench. There has been a change in the electoral college. How could the court downgrade our full membership in BCCI without even issuing notice to us," he said and cited a judgement in the A R Antulay case in which the court had revisited its earlier verdict.

At one point, the bench got angry with the choice of word by senior advocate Vikas Singh, representing Kerala Cricket Association, and barred him from advancing further arguments today.

During the hearing, the two amicus curiae said they had no objection if the names suggested by them were revealed to the counsel of other parties. The court, however, ordered that the cover, containing the names, be re-sealed till it takes a decision on January 24.

The bench asked Subramaniam as to whether the list provided by him contained any name of a person over 70 years of age.

As Subramaniam answered in affirmative, the bench reacted sharply and questioned the particular suggestion.

Senior advocate Kapil Sibal, who represents BCCI and some state cricket associations including Himachal Pradesh and Maharashtra, raised the issue of debarring office bearers on account of their cumulative tenure in state bodies and BCCI together.

"Amicus curiae (Gopal Subramaniam) mentioned before the court and the January 2 order was modified a day after. He did not serve any notice upon us and came before the court and got the order modified. I take serious objection to this. There was no such recommendation which was accepted by the court," Sibal said.

To this, Subramaniam said, "I just brought the matter to the court's notice as an amicus and it was corrected. You (Sibal) are casting aspersions on me".

"It was nine plus nine and not just nine. You should not act like an interested party. You are an amicus...," Sibal said.

The Attorney General then intervened and said he was privy to the proceedings, but was appearing for the first time as the counsel on behalf of Railways and other public bodies.

Detailing the facts, he said the BCCI was a private society under the Tamil Nadu law and Railways, Armed Services and Association of Universities were its permanent members and now stood downgraded because of the judgement.

Rohatgi said the Lodha panel was formed to look into the IPL spot-fixing issue and later its scope got widened.

He referred to the inapplicability of certain suggestions of the panel and gave illustration of DDCA, saying it is a company and how can it be governed by regulations when there is a specific (company) law to deal with it.

The panel said if neither public servants, nor ministers represent cricket bodies, then who will represent armed forces, railways and universities in BCCI, he said, adding "the larger question will have to be decided".

During the hearing, Sibal referred to the decision to remove BCCI President Anurag Thakur and Secretary Ajay Shirke, and said "nobody is left to deal with BCCI's financial issues with ICC. Ad hoc arrangements cannot run. You have thrown us all out."

He said BCCI contributes 70 per cent to the revenue of the ICC and has been getting 22 per cent shares in revenue from the world sports body which now plans to reduce it to 11 per cent.

"It may cause loss to the tune of Rs 8,000 crore. If we lose Rs 8,000 crore, then who will compensate us," he said, adding that the CEO or the court-appointed administrators may not be competent to deal with the ICC and moreover, they may not allow them to deal.

He objected to the idea of court appointing administrators and said "we give the names and you decide".

Subramaniam objected to the submission and said that the whole issue is now being reopened and it has been the fact that BCCI was seeking time to implement reforms.

Sibal said that BCCI had said it would "try to persuade" state associations. The bench said it would deal with the issues raised at a later stage and presently focus on deciding the names of administrators.

Earlier, the apex court had come down heavily on the defiant BCCI brass and removed Thakur and Shirke as President and Secretary for "obstructing" and "impeding" its directions for overhauling governance in the cricket body.

It had said that the BCCI will now be overseen by a committee of administrators.
The court had also slapped Thakur with contempt and perjury notices for filing a false affidavit over writing to ICC on the issue of autonomy.

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