New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday severely curtailed the Board of Control for Cricket in India’s (BCCI) financial powers, stopping it from disbursing funds to state cricket associations until they comply with the recommendations of a court-appointed panel and putting in place a threshold for contracts that the board can enter into.
“BCCI shall forthwith cease and desist from making any disbursement of funds for any purpose whatsoever to any state association until and unless the state associations implement the Lodha panel recommendations,” a bench headed by Chief Justice T.S. Thakur said.
In doing so, the court reiterated its interim order of 7 October that BCCI must ensure compliance of state associations with the panel’s recommendations.
The Lodha panel, headed by former chief justice of India R.M. Lodha and comprising former Supreme Court judges Ashok Bhan and R. Raveendran, was constituted by the apex court to clean up BCCI in the wake of the 2013 Indian Premier League (IPL) betting and spot-fixing scandal.
“The award of contracts by BCCI above the threshold (to be) fixed by the Lodha panel shall be subject to prior approval of the panel,” the court said.
BCCI president Anurag Thakur has been told to file an undertaking before the court by 3 December. Thakur and board secretary Ajay Shirke have also been directed to indicate a road map on how the reforms proposed by the panel will be implemented.
Thakur has to personally appear before the Lodha panel and submit a status report on how its recommendations are being implemented.
The Lodha panel, on its part, has been directed to appoint an independent auditor to inspect all accounts of India’s richest sporting body and vet funds scheduled for disbursement. It also has to decide on a threshold for third-party contracts that the board can enter.
The order is likely to impact BCCI’s handling of the IPL for which media and other contracts have to be concluded on 25 October.
Additionally, the court asked the Lodha panel to inform the International Cricket Council (ICC) of its recommendations to revamp the country’s cricket administration.
On behalf of the BCCI, Shirke said, “We welcome the appointment of the independent auditor. It relieves us of the burden of being solely responsible for everything.” He did not comment on the other developments in the court saying that he hadn’t read the complete order.
According to a BCCI official who did not wish to be identified, 10 state associations of a total of 26 submitted undertakings in the court on Friday stating that they will not be using BCCI funds. However, the official could not identify the domestic tournaments and sports contracts this would impact.
The court has also directed Thakur to file an affidavit clarifying whether he requested ICC president Shashank Manohar for a letter stating that the panel’s recommendation to appoint a nominee of the Comptroller and Auditor General of India to the board amounts to government interference.
While BCCI agreed to implement some of the panel’s suggestions, it has opposed and refused to implement the “one state, one vote” formula, the age cap for office-bearers, and the ban on civil servants being part of BCCI’s board.
The case will be heard next on 5 December.