Given the marching orders by Supreme Court, the sacked duo of BCCI President Anurag Thakur and Secretary Ajay Shirke on Monday said they will abide by the directive even though they made their skepticism with the verdict quite apparent.
Thakur and Shirke were told to quit office with immediate effect by an irate Supreme Court, which held that it was mandatory for the BCCI to implement the Lodha Committee recommendations on administrative reforms in toto.
The court ruled that, for the time being, the senior-most vice President of the BCCI will act as the stand-in President and the joint Secretary would carry out the Secretary’s functions. DDCA Vice President CK Khanna, 64, is among the seniormost VPs in the Board right now.
The apex court also issued a contempt notice to Thakur seeking his response as to why he should not be held liable for obstructing the implementation of the Lodha reforms, which were first made mandatory on July 18 last year. Thakur took a subtle dig at the order saying that if the apex court feels the cricketing body will do well under the guidance of retired judges, “I wish them all the best”.
“For me it was not a personal battle, it was a battle for the autonomy of the sports body. I respect Supreme Court as any citizen should. If Supreme Court judges feel that BCCI could do better under retired judges, I wish them all the best. I am sure Indian cricket will do well under their guidance,” said Thakur.
He reacted to the Supreme Court order by putting up a video clip on social media.
“My commitment to the best of Indian cricket and autonomy of sports will always remain,” he said.
Thakur was BCCI joint secretary and secretary before being elected president in May 2016. The BJP MP has also served as Himachal cricket boss for more than a decade.
“I had the honour of serving Indian cricket. Over the years, Indian cricket saw its best in terms of administration and development of the game. BCCI is the best managed sports organisation in the country with defined procedures. India has the best infrastructure built and maintained by state association with help of BCCI. India has more quality players than anywhere in the world.
Shirke, on the other hand, said he is “absolutely fine” with the Supreme Court order but hoped that the Board does not lose its international standing owing to the administrative upheaval here.
“I have no reaction to that (to his sacking). If that is the Supreme Court order, I cease to be secretary. It cannot get any simpler than that. My role in BCCI is over,” said Shirke shortly after Supreme Court removed him and president Anurag Thakur as the office-bearers of the BCCI. When asked whether the situation could have been avoided had the Board implemented the sweeping reforms earlier, Shirke said there was no question of handling the issue differently.
“At the end of the day, the BCCI comprises of members. It is not about me or the president. It is about the members.
“I have no reason to go into history. History can be judged by people differently. I have no personal attachment to the post. In the past also I have resigned and I have lots of other things to do. I came back to the Board as there was a vacancy and I was elected unopposed. Now it has come to this (the Supreme Court). I am completely fine with it and I have no regrets,” said Shirke from the UK.
A bench headed by Chief Justice T S Thakur said the working of BCCI will be looked after by a committee of administrators and requested senior advocate Fali S Nariman and senior advocate Gopal Subramanian, the amicus curiae in the matter, to assist the court in nominating persons of impeccable integrity for the panel.
Shrike hoped the Board does not lose its powerful position on the global stage. “I hope the new dispensation continues the good work done by the BCCI. Hope the Board doesn’t lose more face globally. I also hope the Indian team is able to maintain its supremacy in all three formats of the game,” Shirke added.
Justice R M Lodha, who headed the three-member panel formed by Supreme Court to suggest structural reforms in the BCCI, said it was only a matter of time for the recommendations to be implemented.
“This is a logical consequence because once the reforms were accepted by the Supreme Court, they had to be implemented. There were obstructions and obviously this had to happen and it has happened,” said Lodha.
“One should understand that once the order of the Supreme Court has come, it has to be obeyed. It is law of the land. It is victory for cricket. The game will flourish. Administrators come and go but the game goes on,” Lodha added.
The Supreme Court bench, also comprising Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud, said that Nariman and Subramanian will complete the task in two weeks and the matter for passing the direction for nominating the persons in committee of administrators will be taken up on January 19.
Meanwhile, the cricketing fraternity led by former India spinner Bishan Bedi hailed the apex court’s verdict.
“This is a landmark judgement. It is good for Indian cricket and it will be back on track. There is light now and we are thankful to the Supreme Court. I don’t have to get into debate. This is full and final. This is going to be great news for Indian sports and cricket in particular,” said Bedi.
BCCI in a fix over senior vice president
With the Supreme Court removing Anurag Thakur from the president’s post, the BCCI is in a fix over who to nominate among its five vice-presidents as the acting chief of the beleaguered cricket body.
At the moment, veteran Delhi and District Cricket Association (DDCA) official CK Khanna, who is vice-president from Central Zone and VP for third time, is the senior most.
However, observer for DDCA Retd Justice Mukul Mudgal, in a scathing report submitted to Delhi HC, termed Khanna as a “pernicious influence”.
It is unlikely that Fali S Nariman and Gopal Subramanium won’t take into cognisance the observations of a legal luminary like Justice Mudgal. Apart from Khanna, there is Gautam Roy of Assam Cricket Association, who is in his second term as vice president and has been ACA president from early 2000 to 2015.
But Delloitte’s internal report about Assam had been adverse and that was when Roy was president.
However, both Khanna and Roy have been part of their respective state association for more than a decade and will have to go into compulsory cooling-off period. Ditto for G Ganga Raju, who had a decade long tenure at Andhra CA and may have to go for cooling-off.
As of now there is no clarity on Sourav Ganguly’s position as he is not a vice-president. Even Ganguly would complete a three-year tenure in office in CAB and hence could be ineligible for the post. As of now, BCCI CEO Rahul Johri is likely to look after the day to day function along with GM MV Sridhar.
Will implement Lodha Reforms right away: Ganga Raju
Rattled after the Supreme Court removed both the BCCI President and Secretary, the Board’s senior vice President Gokaraju Ganga Raju on Monday made it clear that his association Andhra CA will implement Lodha Reforms with immediate effect.
“There is no confusion as Supreme Court has passed it’s verdict. As the president of Andhra Cricket Association we would implement Lodha Reforms in totality with immediate effect. If it means that we have to go into cooling off period, so be it. Indian cricket should move forward,” Ganga Raju said.
There is speculation that he might be in line for interim president’s post but he does not want to get into it. “Look, I still need some clarity over the matter. Mr CK Khanna of DDCA is also a senior VP. But in any case it will be a temporary post as I will also have to go into compulsory cooling off period. But if such kind of responsibility is entrusted on me, I will perform my duties with utmost honesty and sincerity,” he said.