The maverick and irrepressible Justice Markandey Katju has opened one more front, and this time his target is his own fraternity. The beneficiary is supposed to be the cricket establishment that is being force fed sweeping administrative reforms which will sound the death knell for most office-bearers of the Board.
Before he launched a vicious tirade against the Supreme Court judgment on the implementation of the Justice Lodha panel, terming it even a “Tughlaqee farmaan (a foolish order)”, there did not seem to be any escape route available to the Board. When the highest court of the land gives a judgment, it is understood that it can’t be challenged and will be binding. But Justice Katju has different views and being a former High Court chief justice his interpretation of the law of the land can’t be ignored, however flawed it may be. It has at least become a talking point in the media and perhaps given breathing space to some well-known names in the cricket administration, who will become history when the Lodha panel recommendations become a reality.
The 70-year age bar, the nine-year cap on tenure along with one person one post will render all the bigwigs of the Board hors de combat. The fear of loss of power has created so much panic and fear in them that they would resort to any means to get this recommendation overturned. Justice Katju’s utterances must be music to their ears, a sound so sweet that they have made him head of their legal panel.
But is his judicial interpretation of the Supreme Court order, which was delivered by no less than the Chief Justice himself, tenable? Can the Board ignore the recommendations without inviting the ire of the judiciary?
After talking to legal luminaries and a few retired judges, it seems the only recourse left to the Board is to either file a review petition or seek a curative remedy. The review petition goes back to the same bench and in this case since one of the judges has retired, Justice Thakur will have a new judge with him to deal with the review.
In the curative remedy, the case goes to a five-member bench to address the petition. “It is extremely difficult to get a judgment overturned in a review or curative petition and till that process is exhausted, the verdict of the court is final and binding,” are the views of a former judge.
What it means in effect is that the Board is latching on to straws and hoping against hope that it will somehow succeed in stalling these recommendations. The Board should be very careful in confronting a judicial verdict and not validate what Shakespeare said, “Fools rush in where angels fear to tread.”