BCCI vs Lodha panel: Defiant board looks for ways to evade SC’s clutches
One of the biggest off-field battles in the history of Indian cricket enters the final stage with the Supreme Court to hear BCCI’s defence of the decisions taken at their meeting on October 1, which could amount to contempt of court.cricket Updated: Oct 06, 2016 09:50 IST
The Supreme Court is all powerful. Yet, the fact that the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) officials have adopted such a strong stance has been striking. On Thursday, we will get to see if it is confidence or foolhardiness.
One of the biggest off-field battles in the history of Indian cricket enters the final stage with the Supreme Court to hear BCCI’s defence of the decisions taken at their meeting on October 1, which could amount to contempt of court.
The situation is intriguing. The confidence of BCCI president Anurag Thakur and secretary Ajay Shirke has raised eyebrows. It hints that they have something up their sleeve. But, on the other hand, whatever steps they have taken so far look like acts of desperation than design.
Risking a lot
For claiming no money, no play in India’s ongoing series against New Zealand, they have come out looking silly and desperate. They have also risked a lot with their decision to disburse large funds to the state associations in breach of the Apex court’s directive. It means they have decided to go down fighting, as Shirke had declared earlier. It is also because they have little option. For those who have ruled their associations for years, it’s a case of survival.
It remains to be seen whether the Apex Court takes action for contempt of court and removes the BCCI’s top brass, tasking an administrator to carry out the administrative reforms.
But the BCCI can’t be counted out. The Justice RM Lodha panel is up against the most powerful sports body in the country and all BCCI heavyweights have put their minds together in this battle for survival.
Their close confidante has claimed that Thakur and Shirke are confident of steering the BCCI from this situation. The game plan could be to somehow lead this contest out of the Supreme Court’s jurisdiction and into Parliament. “The sports bill was tabled in Parliament in 2010, what happened?” asked a BCCI expert.
BCCI’s challenge will be to take the matter to the Parliament after the SC appoints an administrator to the carry out the reforms.
The understanding is that as the first step to change the by-laws, the SC-appointed administrator has to call a meeting of all the BCCI members, who constitute the general body. The state associations have to agree for the by-law change.
If they don’t agree, the matter can go to the Parliament as it makes the legislation. Under the cooperative society laws, only a member can be a managing committee member and thus a CAG nominee can’t be a member.
“Court can interpret law, but can it make the legislation? Only Parliament can make the legislation,” said the expert.
Given how long the Sports Bill has awaited passage, it will be advantage BCCI.
Hence, there’s a chance that even if the hammer falls on the BCCI top brass, Indian cricket could see a long drawn out battle.
As for the defiance of the state units, one association head said he had no choice: “We are answerable to our members in the state. Won’t they question me how I gave away their rights?”
The other view is that the SC sees through the designs of the BCCI and dismisses all pressure and delaying tactics. With the Vidarbha and Tripura units already agreeing to adopt all the Lodha panel recommendations, it will make it easier for SC to push for reforms.
The point of these two units is simple: It’s better to have their own committee to govern than a SC-appointed administrator.
Yet, the fact that the other members are still undeterred means there is still fight left in the BCCI. Thursday’s courtroom action should provide some answers.