A “defiant” and “obstructionist” BCCI was, on Monday, pushed to the backfoot by Supreme Court of India, which said its President Anurag Thakur and veteran official Ratnakar Shetty were “at odds” on the allegation that ICC’s indulgence was sought to state that implementation of Lodha panel’s recommendations and apex court directions tantamounted to government interference in its working.
“Thakur admits that he had asked ICC chairperson (Shashank Manohar) for a letter while Ratnakar Shetty’s affidavit says he had not asked. Shetty’s affidavit filed earlier is at odds with that of Anurag Thakur,” a bench of Chief Justice T S Thakur and Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud observed.
The bench, which reserved its order on the likely directions to be passed to the BCCI on implementation of the Lodha Committee recommendation for massive structural reform in the cash-rich sports body, took strong exception on the conflicting stand of Thakur and Shetty, General Manager (Cricket Operation), who were asked to file personal affidavits on October 7. They were asked to explain the allegation that ICC CEO Dave Richardson was asked by BCCI to issue a letter that Lodha panel’s directions tantamounted to government interference.
Pushing both the cricket administrators to a sticky wicket, the bench wondered “Whether an attempt was made to secure a letter from ICC to state that the presence of CAG nominee in the apex council would tantamount to government interference in the BCCI working.
“If this was so, can it be meant to say that it was an attempt not to comply with the recommendations of the Lodha committee and the Supreme Court judgement by stating that ICC is threatening to strip the membership of BCCI,” the bench said after perusing their affidavits and submission made by senior advocate Gopal Subramanian, who is assisting the court as amicus curiae in the matter. “Do we go into inquiry and go to the bottom of it? At every stage, there appears to be defiance and obstructionist approach”, the bench said.
Defending the two cricket administrators, senior advocate Kapil Sibal said “BCCI is being portrayed as a villain. It’s like all wrong things are happening due to BCCI”.
“The remedy sought by Amicus Curiae will be worst than the disease,” Sibal said, adding that BCCI does not want to show wilfull defiance.
The apex court, which was also told that the interview of ICC CEO on the issue of letter being sought by BCCI on Lodha recommendation, was on the website, said “Dave Richardson, ICC CEO, is a senior person and you are accusing him of making false statement, when the BCCI President is asking to issue a letter that inclusion of CAG nominee in the apex council amount to government interference in the working of the BCCI”.
The bench noted that Thakur in his affidavit had made a referrence that Manohar had expressed his views that appointment of CAG nominee in the apex council would amount to governmental interference before that stand was rejected by the apex court in July 18 verdict.
“What Manohar had said is perfectly in order as once the judgement was passed rejecting the contention that nominee of CAG would tantamount to government interference there was an appointment in this regard,” the bench said.
The day’s hearing began with the perusal of Thakur’s and Shetty’s affidavits in which the former had also stated that he had taken part in a recent ICC meeting where he had pointed out to ICC Chairman Shashank Manohar that he, as the then BCCI President, had taken a view that Lodha panel recommendation on appointment of a CAG nominee in the apex council would amount to governmental interference and may invoke action of suspension of the Board from the ICC.
The bench noted that Shetty in his affidavit has stated that no letter was sought from the ICC CEO as was alleged.