SC gives ultimatum to defiant BCCI
The apex court decided to pass an order on the issue of implementation of directions of the committee headed by former CJI Lodha on Friday after the counsel for Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) declined to give an “unconditional undertaking by tomorrow” that it will seek instructions to stop funds to the state bodies and abide by the panel’s recommendations.
“You must not create a defiant attitude. This is not going to lead you anywhere,” a bench headed by Chief Justice T S Thakur said, emphasising that transparency, fairness and objectivity were most important aspects in all decisions including disbursal of funds by BCCI.
The bench was pained at BCCI’s stance that the verdicts and directions of the apex court and the Lodha panel were contrary to statutory provisions, saying its reluctance to accept them was part of a “strategy” or “design”, after senior advocate Gopal Subramaniam, assisting as an amicus curaie, drew attention to the BCCI’s affidavit.
He also referred to constitutional provisions dealing with Supreme Court judges and criticised the board for roping in Justice (Retd) Markandey Katju who made “inappropriate remarks” against the judgement of the apex court and the deliberations of the Justice Lodha committee, to undermine the dignity of the apex court.
“Once you become judge of the Supreme Court, you become part of the institution to which there is dignity attached,” he said, asking “can a former judge, once a colleague, can speak about the judgements”, talk to media or hold press conferences.
Though the BCCI received the comments of Justice Katju in writing, it later distanced itself from him but used his views as an averment in the affidavit, Subramaniam said, adding that the apex cricket body was liable for both civil and criminal contempt for disobeying the binding judgement.
“Can a body find out ways and means to subvert the judgement. The answer is ‘No’. It is a civil as well as criminal contempt. A binding judgement of this court cannot be disobeyed and subverted in such a manner till the time it is either modified or reviewed,” he said while stressing that all decisions of BCCI, post apex court judgement, be declared “non est (null and void).”
The senior advocate said the apex court should pass an order that BCCI office bearers should be “superseded” by court-appointed administrators of “impeccable integrity”.
Taking note of Subramaniam’s submissions, the bench pondered over who could be the people who would supersede the office-bearers and even suggested that it could ask Lodha panel to give another opportunity to BCCI to “fall in line”.
“There are two options. Either we say that you follow the recommendations or we will ask the committee to give them one more chance to comply with it and fall in line. They know better what type of people can be administrators,” it said.
Cricket Association of Bihar (CAB), through its secretary Aditya Verma, submitted that the committee should be empowered to appoint administrators for BCCI.
The bench, which will pronounce the order on Friday, said the BCCI cannot pass the buck and allow state bodies to defy reforms, adding there should be “immediate stoppage of flow of funds to them” as these were “public money” and there must be complete transparency on “how the money is being spent”.
When senior advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for BCCI, expressed difficulty in following the directions of the Lodha committee asking the cricket body to comply by September 30, the bench said, “your President (Anurag Thakur) should have taken the trouble to explain to the Lodha committee about the difficulties and should have sought extension of time.”