After another hour-long debate, interjections, counter interjections and sharp, pithy, sarcastic observations from the bench, the constitutional reforms of the BCCI as mandated by the Supreme Court still seem a distant dream.
For all those who have been regular visitors to the court, trying to figure out the mood of the bench, while latching on to every word the judges utter, it has been an educative journey through a tedious route. Much as there is to admire in the garrulous verbosity that the lawyers display in trying to defend their clients, the arguments can become too long-drawn, overstretched and even meaningless, if they have been repeated over a period of time in each hearing of the court.
The sting of an argument loses bite if it plays out like a drunken man stuck at one point while trying to put forth his point of view. We all know that the judges perform an extremely important and sensitive job, and on their wisdom depends the outcome of a case. There is one more significant aspect of their job that may go unrecognised and that is the patience they display while dealing with an excited lawyer.
This BCCI case, where at stake are the Lodha panel recommendations which by now should have been incorporated in the board’s constitution, is still dragging on. As the amicus curiae of the court, eminent lawyer Gopal Subramanium, reiterated in his booming baritone laced with impeccable diction that would do an orator proud, that more than a year has passed after the order, with both the review and curative petitions having been dismissed, and the board has still not implemented the verdict.
Unprecedented was the word used and the three-member bench, headed by the Chief Justice designate, Deepak Mishra, seemed to concur with these observations with a nod of their heads, that indicated their displeasure. When the lawyer of the board members, Puneet Bali realised that his clients could face a reprimand and tried to down-play the defiance, Justice Mishra’s sarcastic remark — you mean to say that the five Pandavas are dead but their mother Kunti is still alive — conveyed the irritation of the court.
Since all the lawyers involved have massive reputations to defend and get fat pay cheques for putting to use their debating skills, they are keen to prolong an argument, even if it may be devoid of any meaning. Their main strength lies in realising what the judges may be thinking and accordingly tailoring their choice of words. It is a fascinating battle which, in this case, has dragged on and on and what the final shape of the reforms will be is still uncertain.
No doubt, issuing notices to the office-bearers of the BCCI for staying defiant is one more nail in the existing coffin of the cricket establishment but at the same time concessions are being considered. The judges told the CoA to draft a constitution, leaving out three points — one state one vote, formation of selection committee and denying Railways, Services the right to vote. The matter became a bit more complicated when the judges said they were willing to consider even some more objections once the draft is ready.
Does this mean more dilution of the Lodha recommendations could be a possibility in the future or was it a ploy from the bench to not get involved with arguments that made no sense to them? Hopefully, we will get some clarity on this at the next hearing on September 18. One had not realised that even after a Supreme Court verdict has been passed, those at the receiving end could still have hope.