The Supreme Court on Friday deferred the elections to the Rajasthan Cricket Association from Feb 22 to March 1, paving the way for outgoing RCA president Lalit Modi's supporters to file their nominations.
A bench of Chief Justice KG Balakrishnan and Justice P Sathasivam also ordered that former Supreme Court judge NM Kasliwal will act as an observer to the elections. It said Justice Kasliwal could appoint some people to assist him.
It issued the order on a lawsuit by Modi, who sought the apex court's supervision to ensure a free and fair poll without any political interference. Modi is also the chairman of the multi-million dollar Indian Premier League.
"We are of the view that the elections could be held on March 1, 2009, as per the steps already taken by the RCA," the bench said, while also allowing further nominations from those interested in contesting elections.
The bench ruled that the elections would be held as per the cricketing association's old constitution, as prevailing on Feb 11, 2005.
Modi in his petition said: "It would be most judicious for this court to exercise its powers to ensure free and fair elections without political and executive interference."
Outgoing RCA president Modi has been engaged in a bitter power tussle with association secretary Subhash Joshi.
Claiming to have majority support of the RCA members, Joshi even got a new constitution registered with the state's registrar of societies, vesting more powers with the secretary than the president.
He had also announced elections for the executive committee of the cricketing body in defiance of Modi.
The Rajasthan High Court stayed the new constitution from taking effect on a plea by the Sriganganagar Cricket Association, which supported Modi. But the court decided against interfering with the poll process, set in motion by then.
The Sriganganagar Cricket Association argued that the constitution could not be changed unless ratified by a two-thirds majority in the annual general body meeting of the association.
Modi then moved the apex court, alleging that the state's registrar had allowed the old constitution to be replaced by the new one without hearing him. The registrar had acted in collusion with Joshi and his order was void, Modi's counsel Harish salve argued before the apex court.
Modi also alleged that his supporters were being victimised and the action by various authorities showed political interference in the matter.
The tussle is seen as an attempt by Rajasthan's Congress government to rein in Modi, the high-profile architect of Indian Premier League (IPL), for his perceived proximity to former chief minister Vasundhara Raje.
Modi has the support of several cricket associations such as those of Kota, Sriganganagar and Alwar.