The Supreme Court agreed on Wednesday to hear a plea seeking removal of office-bearers of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) for not complying with the court’s rulings on administrative reforms.
The court-appointed justice Lodha Committee moved the top court alleging that the office-bearers of BCCI, including president Anurag Thakur, secretary Ajay Shirke, must be superseded immediately by a panel of administrators to ensure the smooth transition from the old to the new system recommended by it.
A bench led by chief justice T.S. Thakur made strong observations against BCCI for not implementing the reforms. “If BCCI thinks they can defy court orders and take law into their hands, it is a mistake,” the court said.
On 18 July, the court had asked BCCI to implement the recommendations within six months under the watch of Lodha committee.
Lodha panel has also asked the court to declare all decisions taken by BCCI since the court’s orders contrary to the recommendations, void.
During this time, BCCI has announced its domestic tournament calendar for 2016-17 without including north eastern states, Bihar and Union territories which do not have a full time-membership. This decision is contrary to the ‘one state, one vote’ formula recommended by the Lodha committee in its report.
“We are making all honest efforts to respond to the Supreme Court point by point. After that they are at liberty to decide what should be done, whether all officer bearers stay or go,” said a member of the BCCI who did not want to be identified since the matter is pending in court.
The Lodha committee, comprising former chief justice of India R.M. Lodha, and former Supreme Court judges Ashok Bhan and R. Raveendran, was set up by the apex court to clean up BCCI following the 2013 Indian Premier League betting and spot-fixing scandal.
The panel had suggested an overhaul of the administration of India’s richest sporting board. It has suggested reforms that clip the wings of a handful of BCCI’s regional affiliates and also barred serving civil servants and ministers from being on BCCI’s board or that of their respective state associations and said that office-bearers of BCCI must not be over 70 years of age.
The committee had also proposed that a nominee from the office of the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) be made a part of BCCI’s managing committee. BCCI opposed the move in court, saying that the presence of a CAG nominee could be seen as “government interference”, which in turn could be grounds for the International Cricket Council to suspend India’s membership.
The court had however dismissed BCCI’s argument, and upheld the committee’s proposal.
In August, BCCI filed for a review of the court’s verdict approving Lodha panel recommendations. The review petition is yet to be heard by the court. The Cricket Association of Bihar also approached the apex court and said that the review petition pending before the court should be taken up urgently.
Separately, the Mumbai Cricket Association has also moved the Bombay high court against BCCI contending that the state association cannot be forced to implement the Lodha Panel recommendations.
BCCI chief executive officer Rahul Johri and president Thakur did not answer several calls and text messages from Mint seeking a response.
The court will hear the case next on 6 October.
Vidhi Choudhary contributed to this story.