The Supreme Court today asked the Committee of Administrators (CoA) appointed by it to run the BCCI to release funds to state cricket associations, including HPCA, which is holding the last India-Australia test, for organising matches.
A bench headed by Justice Dipak Misra also considered the plea of Maharashtra, Karnataka and Jharkhand state cricket associations, which have organised the last three test matches of the ongoing series, and asked the CoA to release funds to them in accordance of the terms of the contract.
Some state associations drew the attention of the bench, also comprising Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud, that a similar issue of release of funds may come up again in holding Indian Premier League (IPL) matches, commencing from April 5.
The bench then said the CoA, state associations and franchise owners will have to comply with the terms of their tripartite agreement to ensure smooth conduct of IPL fixtures.
"It is directed that BCCI shall honour the contractual commitments postulated in the contract so that there is no impediments in holding the test match," it said.
The direction came when Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for Himachal Pradseh Cricket Association (HPCA), said the CoA is not releasing Rs 2.5 crore required for conducting the last test match beginning tomorrow in Dharamshala.
He said BCCI owed over Rs 8 crore to HPCA and the apex cricket body is "contractually bound" to release the money.
However, he said, the CoA had made disbursement of funds conditional to the HPCA giving an undertaking that it would abide by the R M Lodha panel's recommendations on reforms.
HPCA is a registered company under section 25 of the Companies Act and any changes in compliance with the panel's recommendations can only be undertaken by the general body and disbursement of funds, as stipulated under the contract, cannot be linked, he said.
The bench, in its order, dealt with issues including the release of funds to state associations for upcoming IPL matches.
"We have been apprised that the matches are going to commence from 5th April, 2017, and there are ten venues in India. There have to be tripartite contracts some have been entered into, while some shall be entered into in due course.
"After the contracts are executed, following the principle of parity, BCCI shall also honour the contractual terms. Needless to say, when we say that BCCI shall honour its commitment, there has to be sincere commitment of honouring the terms and conditions of the contract by all the parties to the contract," it said.
The bench, meanwhile, clarified that if a person has been an office bearer in a state association for nine years, he would not stand barred from becoming an office bearer in BCCI.
Similarly, an office bearer of BCCI for nine years can still get elected and become part of state cricket bodies.
The clarification came when Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for Railways, Services and Association of Universities, alleged that the CoA is claiming that the apex court order on this issue is not "clear".
The bench meanwhile said that other issues raised by Railways, Services and Association of Universities, National Cricket Club and various state cricket associations including Himachal Pradesh, West Bengal and Maharashtra against the July 18, 2016 judgement would be taken up on July 14.
At the outset, ASG Mehta raised the "emergent" issue of disbursement of Rs 2.5 crore to HPCA for holding the test match at Dharamshala, saying a peculiar situation has emerged where its rightful due is not being paid and to giving an undertaking on the Lodha panel recommendations.
He also referred to the plea filed by the CoA, saying that it has sought a direction to HPCA for holding the test match.
Senior advocate Parag Tripathi, appearing for CoA, opposed the plea of HPCA and said that earlier the practice was to pay the money after the match was conducted and they should account for the money.
During the hearing, the Attorney General raised the issue of downgrading membership of Railways, Services and Association of Universities from permanent to associate and said that it needed to be rectified.
"Railways is pan-India so it cannot be given the voting rights as permanent member. What kind of logic is this?" Rohatgi asked, adding that the principle of 'one state-one vote' defied logic.
We are not concerned with any new state being given permanent membership. Railways cannot be stripped of its permanent membership, he said.
The court said it would deal with the issue at a later stage.
Earlier, former BCCI President Anurag Thakur, slapped with a contempt notice for filing a "false affidavit" in the Supreme Court, had tendered "unconditional and unqualified apology" before the apex court.
The bench said that it would deal with the issue later and exempted Thakur from personal appearance on future dates.
The apex court had on January 2 come down heavily on the defiant BCCI brass and removed Thakur and Ajay Shirke as the President and Secretary for "obstructing and impeding" its directions for overhauling governance in the cricket body.
The bench had slapped Thakur with contempt and perjury notices for filing a false affidavit over writing to the ICC on the issue of autonomy.
On January 30, the apex court had appointed a four-member committee of administrators headed by former Comptroller and Auditor General of India Vinod Rai to run BCCI's affairs and implement court-approved recommendations of the Justice R M Lodha panel on reforms in the cash-rich cricket body.
Other three members of the committee of administrators include historian Ramachandra Guha, Vikram Limaye, IDFC Managing Director, and former Indian women's cricket team captain Diana Edulji.