N Srinivasan and Niranjan Shah will have to explain to the Supreme Court of India their roles in stalling the implementation of the Lodha Committee recommendations. The pair of former BCCI office bearers were singled out by the Committee of Administrators (CoA) in a scathing appraisalof the progress – or lack of – made by the BCCI in implementing the recommendations.
The court will hear the matter on July 24, two days before the next BCCI SGM to discuss the recommendations.
At Friday’s hearing, Justice Dipak Misra observed that “if a person is disqualified to be an office bearer, he cannot be nominated by office bearers”.
Misra’s statement is significant because Srinivasan and Shah, despite being disqualified as office bearers on grounds that they are over 70 years old and having exceeded the tenure cap, had attended BCCI meetings as representatives or nominees of their respective state associations – Tamil Nadu and Saurashtra. And according to the CoA’s latest status report, Srinivasan and Shah have prevented other BCCI members from reaching a consensus on implementing the Lodha Committee’s recommendations.
Anurag Thakur, the former BCCI president, was cleared of perjury charges for a letter he had written to the ICC asking it to intervene, saying the Lodha Committee reforms amounted to government interference in the board. A day before Friday’s hearing he filed an affidavit, apologising unconditionally.
Over the last month, a special committee was formed by the BCCI to shortlist the most significant problems the board had with those recommendations in order to put them before the court for reconsideration.
However, according to amicus curiae Gopal Subramanium, when the wider BCCI body held special general meetings to discuss and ratify the shortlisted recommendations, the meetings were “hijacked” by Srinivasan and Shah.
“Till now, most recommendations were by and large accepted,” Subramanium said, but Srinivasan and Shah kept repeating “nothing can be implemented”.
Advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing on behalf of Srinivasan and other state associations, responded on behalf of his client, “I am a member of TNCA. Nobody can take my membership away.” The states have argued that the disqualified office bearers – such as Srinivasan and Shah – are not attending the meetings as office bearers but as representatives, and that the Lodha Committee’s eligibility criteria did not apply to representatives.
In the status report submitted to the court on July 12, the CoA said disqualified office bearers were “impediments” to the implementation of recommendations.
The BCCI secretary Amitabh Choudhary, in an affidavit filed in the court on Tuesday, said that five state associations – Tamil Nadu, Saurashtra, Karnataka, Kerala and Goa – had objected to the implementation of the recommendations at the SGM on June 26. Choudhary noted the efforts of the CoA, which had met the state associations twice and “stressed” that it could work with the BCCI in “canvassing the impracticality or difficulties that may arise in implementation of some clauses” of the recommendations.
Choudhary said that in addition to the four shortlisted recommendations, the special committee wanted restrictions waived for representatives of states attending board meetings, and members who sit on different committees. “The house also felt there should not be any disqualifications in terms of age, tenure or cooling off for representatives, nominees of the associations and the BCCI and the members of the BCCI committee.”
The court did not hear the other requests in the CoA’s status report, which will be heard on July 24. The court accepted the resignations of CoA members Vikram Limaye and Ramachandra Guha, and Subramanium submitted six names as possible replacements. Sibal argued that his clients should also be allowed to suggest names; the court granted him the request and decided to hear the matter on July 24.
The lawyer for Railways argued that they had been relegated to associate status under the one-state-one-vote policy, and despite being regular contributors to Indian cricket, they were not invited to these meetings to decide their fate. They requested a “recall” of that specific part of the order. Subramanium argued this issue had been discussed at length previously, but the court agreed to hear the matter on September 5.
2015 Kashmir Despatch