The Supreme Court on Thursday bowled a googly and a yorker at the same time, barring BCCI chief-in-exile N Srinivasan from contesting election to the board’s top post and bringing the world’s richest cricket body under the ambit of public scrutiny.
It directed the Board of Control for Cricket in India to hold the election within six weeks after restraining Srinivasan from the exercise as long as he continued to own Indian Premier League (IPL) team Chennai Super Kings because the dual role pointed to a “conflict of interest”.
Srinivasan, who currently holds the International Cricket Council chairman’s position, was left to choose between the BCCI and the IPL franchise his company India Cements Limited had successfully bid for in 2008 as the apex court struck down a board rule that allowed its officials to simultaneously wear two hats.
The court said a clear conflict of interest arose because Srinivasan was the BCCI president, the owner of Chennai Super Kings and the father-in-law of Gurunath Meiyappan, who is facing charges of betting and spot-fixing in the sixth edition of the IPL.
A bench headed by justice TS Thakur called Rule 6.2.4 of the BCCI illegal. “It permits, protects and even perpetuates situations where the administrators can have commercial interests in breach or conflict with the duty they owe to the BCCI or to the people at large.”
The ruling put an end to the free run the BCCI enjoyed on the pretext of being a private entity.
The court called the board a public body discharging public functions because it is the official selector of the national cricket team.
The BCCI would be amenable to the writ jurisdiction of high courts under Article 226 even when it was not ‘State’ within the meaning of Article 12 of the Constitution, the court added.
This means, a common man can drag the all-powerful BCCI to court for any alleged misdeed.
It could also come under the purview of the RTI act.
The bench said the court-appointed justice Mukul Mudgal panel had rightly found Meiyappan and Rajasthan Royals promoter Raj Kundra guilty of betting.
The verdict put a question mark on the future of the two franchises after the court said not only the owners but also the teams needed to be punished for the illegal act.
The court set up a three-member committee headed by former chief justice RM Lodha to decide the quantum of punishment to be awarded to Meiyappan, Kundra, Chennai Super Kings and Rajasthan Royals.
The panel will further investigate the role of IPL chief operating officer Sundar Raman. “He remained totally inert in the matter instead of taking suitable action warranted under the circumstances,” the bench said.
Unhappy with the BCCI’s opaque style of functioning, the court asked the panel to suggest measures to revamp it within six months, to streamline its election process and to bring institutional integrity.
“The BCCI is a very important institution … Individuals are birds of passage while institutions are forever,” it said.
The ruling came on a petition filed by the Cricket Association of Bihar asking the court to restrain Srinivasan from holding the BCCI president’s post in the wake of the betting scandal involving his son-in-law.