Apparently coming to the rescue of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), the Centre on Tuesday told the Supreme Court that it was mulling bringing a law or an executive order for uniform functioning of the national sports bodies.
The government urged the apex court to put on hold the appointment of administrators to run the top cricketing body. The government will "consider and mull over the situation for some uniformity in the functioning of national sports bodies. We are going to have a holistic view. Sports associations should have some autonomy. We are looking at a larger picture", Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi told the apx court.
As Rohatgi apprised the court of the government's intention, he asked the bench of Justice Dipak Misra, Justice A.M. Khanwilkar and Justice D.Y. Chandrachud to keep in abeyance for two weeks the appointment of committee of administrators (COA) -- a plea also iterated by senior counsel Kapil Sibal.
As the Attorney General pointed out that "the problem is not domestic alone, it permeates to international sector", the court said: "To bring legislation, you are also not sure what impact it will have."
"Whatever impurities are there, they have to be cleared," Justice Misra observed as the Attorney General said: "Justice Lodha can't be allowed to legislate."
This invited retort from the bench asking the AG where he was when the case was being argued. "Where were you when the matter was being argued?"
Refusing to put on hold the constitution of the COA as it wanted to take forward its July 18, 2016 judgement and January 2, 2017 order, the court gave both the Attorney General and Kapil Sibal time till Friday to suggest names that they would like to be included in the COA as it directed the next hearing on January 30.
The bench said the names to be recommended should be in conformity with the recommendations of the Justice Lodha Committee.
Amicus curiae Gopal Subramaniam and Anil Divan had in the last date of hearing on January 20 given names for inclusion in the COA.
As Sibal wanted to have a look at the names suggested by Subramsaniam and Divan, Justice Misra said: "You were to give suggestions and not that suggestions to be exchanged with you."
The court also allowed the BCCI to suggest three names that would represent the apex cricketing body at the International Cricket Council (ICC) during its meeting in the first week of February.
At the said February meeting of ICC, the issues involving the financial interest of the BCCI would be discussed and decided.
Kapil Sibal, appearing for some of the state affiliates of the BCCI, urged the court to allow BCCI to send an experienced hand who could negotiate at ICC.
"We are going to lose if our share comes down. Those who are nominated must be experienced in negotiation. We may lose Rs 3,000 crore," Sibal told the court.
The top court by its January 2 order had directed the setting up of a COA that would supervise the administration of BCCI through its Chief Executive Officer and implement the Justice Lodha Committee recommendations for reforms in the structure, organisation and working of the apex cricketing body.
While the Centre sought to get some breather for the BCCI, the court said it would not keep in abeyance the appointment of the COA.
"We are not (going to keep in abeyance the appointment of COA). Why we should keep it in abeyance. This case has to move on in both ways ;the recommendations of the Justice Lodha Committee have to be implemented and simultaneously we will hear your grievance."
As Sibal and some other lawyers tried to impress upon the court that it should hold its hand in constituting the committee of administrators, Justices Misra said: "If everyone is interested in taking us through a dark maze, he is mistaken."
Making it clear that it would take forward the July 18, 2016 judgement and January 2, 2017 order, the court said: "Once we pen down an order if one line is changed, why should such an impression go (that the judgement and order are being reopened)."
The bench said this after amicus curiae, at the beginning of the hearing, said: "An impression is going out in the case that judgement (July 18, 2016) and directions (of January 2, 2017) are being re-opened."
AG said that "if it has to be relooked, then it must be relooked" as Sibal told the bench that no review has been filed seeking the recall of the July 18 judgement,a position contested by the bench.