Supreme Court bench dismisses BCCI review petition

‘The Lodha Committee wants to run cricket and that is not the purpose of its formation by this court’, the BCCI legal counsel Kapil Sibal told the Supreme Court on Monday © India Today Group/Getty Images

A two-judge bench of the Supreme Court has dismissed the review petition filed by the BCCI in August challenging the July 18 order which approved the recommendations of the Lodha Committee. The decision was taken on Tuesday by a two-judge bench comprising TS Thakur, the Chief Justice of India, and Justice SA Bobde behind closed doors.

In the review plea, BCCI had called the court order “unreasoned”. It also accused Chief Justice Thakur, who was part of the two-judge bench that passed the July 18 order, of having a “prejudiced” approach and said he should “recuse” himself.

The BCCI had asked for an open court hearing, but Tuesday’s hearing was held behind closed doors with even the parties involved in the case not allowed to be present.

“The matter is still being heard so it is not a setback,” Ajay Shirke, the BCCI secretary, said.

According to Shirke, the BCCI will now file a curative petition against today’s court decision. A curative petition is once again held in the judges’ chamber and the bench usually comprises at least three judges. The BCCI has already filed a curative petition that is pending in the court pertaining to its objection to the setting up of the Lodha Committee last year.

Today’s development further hurts the BCCI position. On Monday, a three-judge bench of the court reserved its order on the status report filed by the Lodha Committee asking for the removal of all the BCCI office-bearers (president, secretary, joint secretary and treasurer under the board’s existing constitution).

During the course of the two-hour hearing, BCCI legal counsel Kapil Sibal told the court that his client needed at least three more months to implement the reforms suggested by the Lodha Committee. Sibal also told the court that the Lodha Committee had crossed the lines of its terms as some of its actions suggested.

“It is as if the Lodha Committee wants to run cricket and that is not the purpose of its formation by this court… The committee is going beyond the judgment,” Sibal was quoted as saying by The Hindu. “These are our administrative issues.”

Ever since the Lodha Committee released its recommendations on January 4, the BCCI has maintained that it will not adopt some of the reforms. The BCCI then dared the court by defaulting on the first deadline of September 30, set by the Lodha Committee for the board and the state association to fulfill the first set of timelines.

At the October 1 SGM, and then at an emergency meeting held last Saturday, the BCCI reiterated that it could not implement the recommendations unconditionally as ordered by the court unless it gained a two-thirds majority among the 30 state associations. The BCCI has said it is totally against some of the recommendations: one-state-one-vote, which it contends would rob votes for members that belong to states that have more than one team; having an age cap of 70 for administrators; and a cooling-off period of three years between each of the three terms allowed for an administrator.

On Monday, Sibal told the court that the one-state-one-vote was a “remedy” far worse than the “disease”.

“One State One Vote will lead to greater corruption,” Sibal said, according to The Hindu. “You have taken away the votes of some of our founding members… those who have been deeply involved in cricket from the 1930s and given it to some States which have no infrastructure to conduct cricket. You have taken away a Bombay vote and given it to Arunachal. If you distribute votes according to territory, let’s say Nagaland where nobody is willing to spend for cricket, it will not work.

“I have only one request… allow cricket to expand according to its own principles… Again, I repeat, I personally feel that the remedy will be worse than the disease… this the future will show.” Sibal even offered to file a detailed affidavit highlighting the BCCI’s grouses and practical difficulties and differences concerning the Lodha reforms.

Nagraj Gollapudi is a senior assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

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Source: ESPN Crickinfo

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