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Where were you when we passed order? Supreme Court’s bouncer at combative BCCI

BCCI vs Lodha panel hearing in Supreme Court: A three-member Supreme Court bench has asked for names from the Board of Control for Cricket in India for the administrator’s panel. Next hearing is on January 30

BCCI versus Lodha Panel Updated: Jan 24, 2017 18:28 IST
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A combative Board of Control for Cricket in India has been asked by the Supreme Court to suggest names to represent the country at the International Cricket Council. The top court will make a decision on January 30. It will also name the panel of administrators who will run the cricket Board and implement the Lodha reforms.(Cricket Australia/Getty Images)

The Supreme Court is expected to name a panel of administrators on January 30 to run the beleaguered Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI). After Anurag Thakur and Ajay Shirke were sacked as BCCI president and secretary, respectively, by the top court on January 2, there is a leadership vacuum in the world’s richest cricket body. No decision on names could be reached during Tuesday’s hearing at Supreme Court after the BCCI also wanted to present its list of nominees. Highlights of the Supreme Court hearing between BCCI and Lodha panel here.

3:51 pm IST: So that’s the end of another day at Supreme Court. We have to wait till January 30 and see if the warring parties agree to a panel. Both BCCI and the Supreme Court have stuck to their guns and the judges have shown enormous patience.

3:43 pm IST: The BCCI has also been asked to submit by Friday three names to represent the cricket board at the next International Cricket Council meeting in February.

3:38 pm IST: As expected, there is no decision. The next date of hearing is January 30. BCCI and Attorney General (Centre) have been asked by the bench to submit names in a sealed cover for panel of administrators by Friday (Jan. 27). Once again, a timeless test for cricket officials in the country.

3:31 pm IST: The Supreme Court mood is equally aggressive. It remains to be seen if the top court can stick to its guns. Successive judges -- Justice Patnaik and Justice Thakur -- who have headed this bench have really taken BCCI to task.

3:13 pm IST: Supreme Court hits back at Attorney General, Mukul Rohatgi. “When we passed the order in July, where were you.?” The dramatic entry of the AG actually happened only last week.

3:06 pm IST: Due to the Supreme Court order (on making Lodha panel reforms binding on BCCI on July 18, 2016), India’s reputation as a cricket superpower has been badly hit, argues the Attorney General of India. BCCI is unrepresented in ICC at this moment.

3:04 pm IST: A two-week delay means the logistics for the upcoming Test series against Australia will be handled by the BCCI CEO, but all approvals for funds will have to be taken by the Lodha committee secretariat.

2:46 pm IST: BCCI has been told by Supreme Court that it will not accept names above 70 years. Supreme Court is unlikely to take a decision on administrators today. Remember, the Lodha panel had suggested that cricket officials should not be above 70.

2: 35 pm IST: BCCI allowed to give names in a sealed cover. Another adjournment in the offing? Attorney General is speaking on behalf of the cricket Board. Says it does not agree with the names given in the sealed cover.

2:32 pm IST: The names given to the judges do not include any from the cricket board. The names have comes from amicus curiae Gopal Subramanium, senior lawyer Anil Divan and the petitioner.

2:30 pm IST: BCCI counsel in attacking mood. Says cricket Board wants to give its own set of names for administrators panel. Attorney General wants Supreme Court to delay naming of administrators by two weeks.

2:10 pm IST: It remains to be seen if Lodha panel’s powers are fully restored by the Supreme Court. Referring to a bigger bench will only prolong the agony of the petitioner, Cricket Association of Bihar. It was the Bihar body that brought the IPL 2013 betting and spot-fixing scandal to light. That led to the removal of once BCCI strongman N. Srinivasan.

1:57 pm IST: Meanwhile, cricket is doing very well far from the court rooms. Rest of India have won the Irani Trophy beating Gujarat by six wickets in Mumbai. Wriddhiman Saha scored an unbeaten 200 while Cheteshwar Pujara scored a glorious ton.

1:54 pm IST: Interestingly, the Lodha reforms are being suggested to be implemented on the national sports federations. Read HT’s analysis.

1:52 pm IST: Some of the names include former cricket personalities like Bishan Singh Bedi and Mohinder Amarnath.

1:50 pm IST: Apparently, there are three sealed envelopes in front of the Supreme Court. There are 24 names to choose from.

Senior cricket administrators such as Sharad Pawar (right) and IPL Governing Council chairman Rajeev Shukla are ineligible to work for the BCCI or state bodies as per the Lodha panel reforms. (PTI)

A rudderless BCCI is expected to get a set of administrators on Tuesday. With tenure and age caps already the order of the day across the cricket Board and its state units, the Supreme Court, acting on recommendations made by the RM Lodha panel and amicus curiae (court’s friend) Gopal Subramanium, will name a panel that will run the Board till fresh elections are held.

Five key recent developments in this protracted case (starting from latest):

1. The Supreme Court’s order on tenure of a cricket administrator in Indian cricket created a lot of confusion after the Apex Court sacked Anurag Thakur and Ajay Shirke as BCCI president and secretary in a landmark order on January 2. Finally, it has been made clear that an official will hold office for a maximum of nine years with a three-year cooling off after every three-year term. The nine years could be in the BCCI or state or both combined.

2. Aminus curiae Gopal Subramanium asked the court on January 23 to issue “a direction that the Committee of Administrators shall also be in charge of IPL and may appoint advisors as they deem necessary; an injunction restricting any person, groups of persons, association(s), State Cricket Association(s) from interfering in the functions of the Committee of Administrators; a direction empowering the Committee of Administrators to nominate any member to represent BCCI in the forthcoming ICC Conferences.”

Senior BCCI vice-president CK Khanna (extreme right) could be given temporary charge of the BCCI. The CEO Rahul Johri is already handling routine matters. Sharad Pawar (extreme left) and Niranjan Shah are above 70 and the age cap will apply to them. (PTI)

3. On January 20, the BCCI vs Lodha panel case took a dramatic turn when the government tacitly puts its weight behind a gasping BCCI, still reluctant to execute the Lodha panel reforms in full. Attorney General of India Mukul Rohatgi appeared for institutional BCCI affiliates like Railways, Services and the Universities challenging the Supreme Court order that takes away voting rights from these units. The Lodha panel suggested voting rights be restricted to only state units but only one vote per state. States such as Gujarat and Maharashtra have multiple voting units.

4. The Attorney General urged the three-judge bench headed by Justice Dipak Misra to recall the reforms suggested by Lodha panel and refer the matter to a larger bench. The January 2 order was passed by Chief Justice of India TS Thakur, who had headed this bench until he retired on January 3. The other two members -- justices AM Khanwilkar and DY CHandrachud -- remain on this bench.

5. The Supreme Court had curbed BCCI’s powers by putting several controls in administrative matters, especially finances. These were done to make BCCI and its state units fall in line. The financial freedom was cut in October last year and BCCI/state units had to take approvals from the Lodha panel to conduct routine matters like hosting of international/domestic fixtures.