Former Supreme Court Judge Markanday Katju on Wednesday questioned the Supreme Court’s decision to appoint the Lodha Commission to decide punishments to be imposed on people and cricket bodies accused of spot fixing in the IPL controversy.
The Supreme Court led by Justice TS Thakur in January this year convened a three-member commission -- led by former Chief Justice of India RM Lodha and comprising former SC judges Ashok Bhan and RV Raveendran -- to decide on the quantum of punishment to be meted out to Gurunath Meiyappan, Raj Kundra and their franchises Chennai Super Kings and Rajasthan Royals respectively.
The commission was directed to hear all parties likely to be affected by their decision before taking a final view on the punishment. It had emphasised that the Commission’s order would be final and binding upon the BCCI and all parties concerned. However, it added that the parties could exercise their right to appeal against the same.
“The power to impose punishment is with the court. Can the court outsource this judicial power to another body, e.g. a commission appointed by it? If this is legally permissible, then why cannot every judicial function be outsourced? I have grave doubts whether such outsourcing is valid,” said Katju in various online forums including his personal blog.
Katju’s comments came after the Supreme Court-appointed Lodha panel suspended IPL franchises Chennai Super Kings and Rajasthan Royals for two years on Tuesday after their officials were found guilty of illegally betting on games. The three-member committee also slapped a life ban on former CSK official Gurunath Meiyappan, who is the son-in-law of International Cricket Council (ICC) chairman N Srinivasan, and Rajasthan Royals co-owner Raj Kundra from any involvement with the Indian cricket board, BCCI).
Former Law Minister of India Shanti Bhushan said Katju was mistaken about the issue. “Just because someone is a Supreme Court judge doesn’t mean he has all the knowledge of the law,” he told HT. He further added that “the SC has full authority to delegate power to other committees as long as it can be challenged in a court of law afterwards”.