CHENNAI: It was around the end of 2014, when people in the BCCI got busy finding out the difference between ‘observation’ and ‘order’.
The Supreme Court was making stinging comments in the IPL case and board members were hoping against hope those were remarks, not the verdict. That there was little to choose between observations and the order became clear when the verdict went against the BCCI.
With another round of hearing going on in Cricket Association of Bihar’s plea to ask the BCCI to implement in full Justice Lodha panel recommendations, the court has again made remarks causing discomfort to the cricket board. This time, people in the BCCI are not wishing them away as ‘observations’. Memories fresh, they have not given up completely, although few are harbouring high hopes.
“Observations are not verdicts. But we have to see whether the observations are general or specific. In the last few hearings, the court has gone into minute details in explaining where the BCCI is going wrong and what it should do. These are not general observations. It doesn’t look good,” BCCI sources with legal expertise told Express on Tuesday.
Although the BCCI counsel has raised the point that forcing recommendations amounts to violation of fundamental right to form association under Article 19 (1) C, the court has ‘observed’ it doesn’t. Even CAB lawyers are set to oppose it. “Our counsel Nalini Chidambaram wanted to counter it on Monday. The court told us to wait for our turn,” said CAB secretary and petitioner Aditya Verma.
That the case is being heard by a Chief Justice (TS Thakur) is the BCCI’s other headache. “If it were a lower bench not featuring a Chief Justice, there would have been provision for appeal at a higher bench. That ruled out, the BCCI has no option but to do what the court directs it to. Whether it’ll be a good example or not is another matter,” felt a unit head.
SCA Moves Court
Undeterred by the court’s rebuttal of arguments put forward by BCCI units who have submitted applications seeking review of Lodha panel recommendations, Saurashtra Cricket Association on Tuesday joined the list. It’s secretary for over three decades and former BCCI secretary Niranjan Shah filed a separate application. While the SCA application expresses reservation against recommendations like one state, one vote and age limit for top office bearers, Shah argues why shouldn’t administrators be allowed to hold office after they complete 70.
Before Saurashtra, Mumbai, Cricket Club of India, Baroda, Tamil Nadu, Odisha and Punjab had filed similar applications. Curiously, the BCCI president’s home association of Vidarbha or secretary Anurag Thakur’s Himachal Pradesh are still to seek review on this. So far, none of the applicants have got a favourable response from the court.
What the judges are saying...
- If structural changes in the BCCI, as recommended, are accepted, there will be far more openness and transparency. The purpose is to clean the system, make BCCI more accountable, responsive and representative.
- If Lodha Committee recommendation is accepted, it is not violating your rights. We will be careful that the they are not violative of fundamental rights guaranteed under Article 19 (1) ©.
- You are opposing the nominee of the CAG on the board as it would make you vulnerable to derecognition, but you are advocating involvement of ministers and bureaucrats. Does it not create government influence or presence
- We have seen allegations of match-fixing and betting. You have no control over these but you are dealing with hundreds of crores of rupees. Do you say that you have complete immunity over it and you can’t be questioned?
- Goa gets Rs 60 crore. Chhattisgarh gets Rs 1.47 crore. Eleven states have zero against their names. They go begging for assistance. Should your system of disbursement not be perfect?
- Justice Lodha committee doesn’t change any rules. It doesn’t say there should be seven balls in an over. It only recommends change in the persons managing cricket administration.