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Thursday, Oct 24, 2019

BCCI matter: SC appoints former judge DK Jain as ombudsman, set to add members in CoA

Justice SA Bobde and Abhay Manohar Sapre appointed the retired SC judge as BCCI’s first ombudsman and also said that more members will be appointed in the two-member CoA.

cricket Updated: Feb 21, 2019 18:53 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
General view of the Supreme Court of India.
General view of the Supreme Court of India.(Amal KS/HT PHOTO)

The Supreme Court on Thursday appointed its former judge, Justice DK Jain as the first ombudsman of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI). Justice SA Bobde and Abhay Manohar Sapre took up the matter in the presence of new Amicus Curiae PS Narasimha. The BCCI matter was last heard on January 17 with the court deferring the matter for February. The state associations were especially looking forward to the hearing as they expected clarity on the way forward as far as the new BCCI constitution registered by the Committee of Administrators (CoA) is concerned as also the appointment of an Ombudsman.

The bench comprising Justices SA Bobde and AM Sapre said: “We are happy that by consent of the parties and the suggestions, the name of retired Justice DK Jain has been agreed to be appointed as the Ombudsman in the BCCI. We accordingly appoint Justice (retired) DK Jain as first Ombudsman in the BCCI.”

While state associations had called for the need to hold a Special General Meeting to appoint the ombudsman, the CoA wanted the Supreme Court to appoint the ombudsman directly.

Justice Jain emerged as the first choice among the six former apex court judges whose names were placed before a bench in an envelope by Amicus Curaie PS Narsimha.

The Ombudsman is expected to resolve any issue that comes with regards to the players as also financial issues.

Interestingly, the bench also made its displeasure known regarding the difference in opinion of CoA members Vinod Rai and Diana Edulji and said that it will appoint more members in the committee. The orders to this effect would be passed in chambers.

“We have heard in newspaper reports that some sparring is going on between CoA members...tell them not to go public with their differences,” the bench said.

During the hearing on Thursday, Amicus Narasimha told the court that earlier there were four members in CoA but now there were only two. “We will appoint the members,” the bench said.

To this, senior advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for a state cricket association, said the number of members in CoA should have been odd. Narasimha also said the CoA should comprise of three members.

Sibal told the court that CoA would mean that BCCI would be ‘sidelined completely’.

However, the bench said, “We understand that. It (CoA) will be till further orders. Can we do it in-chamber? We have a name in our mind. We will pass an order”.

Later, the bench observed that the CoA may also comprise of five members. “We are partially aware of what is going on in CoA,” the bench observed.

The counsel appearing for some of the state cricket associations told the court that CoA has not released funds to them. Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for Maharashtra Cricket Association, said the condition was “precarious” as their stadium has been attached in a court proceeding and they have not been given funds by the CoA.

Sibal argued that for the last three years, “not a single penny has been given to the state cricket associations”.

Tripathi told the bench that funds were released directly to the respective vendors for the works done by them.

“As long as people are playing the game and cricket is going on, we are not concerned,” the bench observed.

It asked Narasimha to advise the CoA to release funds to the state cricket associations for cricketing purpose.

“At the moment, let CoA be re-constituted and they can seek advise of PS Narasimha and then release funds. We are not going to look into the accounts,” the bench said, adding, “We think that CoA is not utilising the services of amicus. Let them do it”.

Meanwhile, the apex court issued notice to the CoA on an application of BJP leader Anurag Thakur, who was removed by the top court from the post of BCCI president in 2017 for obstructing its directions for overhauling governance in the cricket body, that he be allowed to contest and get back into the elected body of the BCCI.

“My problem is that I am being barred (from BCCI) and have no remedy for the last two years,” senior advocate P S Patwalia, appearing for Thakur, said.

(With inputs from PTI)

First Published: Feb 21, 2019 15:10 IST

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