One would have to be smoking something illegal to be even remotely seen to be defending Subrata Roy Sahara, N. Srinivasan and Akhilesh Yadav today. And at a time when the most profound thoughts are expressed in no more than 140 characters, I know the perils of being even halfway subtle. So let me say this up front, and in barely more than 140 characters: Neither I, nor any sane Indian can defend any of these three characters on issues in which they’ve been pilloried by the Supreme Court of India. They must be called to account now.
Having got that disclaimer, or maybe anticipatory bail application, out of the way, let me be reckless and raise a few questions. Can our Supreme Court get so deeply involved in cleaning up the muck in the BCCI? Can it simply tell its president, Srinivasan, off with your head, and appoint Sunil Gavaskar whom I so adore as a cricketer, and I presume the bench does too, as we are, generally, the same vintage. We know that BCCI president is the second most important job in the country, after the Congress vice president, today.
But what if our team does really badly in the ongoing T20 cricket world cup? A humiliation in Bangladesh will be such a knock on our pride. Will the SC then move in the national interest and replace Dhoni as captain, the third most important job in the country? And with whom, and on what basis? Ravi Shastri as the non-playing captain, since Gundappa Viswanath, being married to Sunny’s sister, may cause another conflict of interest? Or why not Arvind Kejriwal? Now that would be some real reform.
I know I risk being asked to get my head examined, so let me explain my confusion. My colleague and Indian Express legal affairs editor Maneesh Chhibber mentions to me an earlier Constitution bench judgment (Zee Telefilms Ltd and Anr vs Union of India and Ors, 2005), which ruled that the cricket board is a private body and even though it controls cricket in India, it is not “state”. To be fair, the bench had also ruled that while the BCCI is not “state”, a writ petition against it under Article 226 of the Constitution would still be maintainable.
But can that be stretched to the honourable court removing, even if temporarily, its elected president and appointing somebody else, howsoever illustrious? This paper, on its front page on Friday, had carried a story on some conflicts of interest that Gavaskar has with the BCCI. The judges have tried to address that by asking him to “get out of” his contracts. But I am not sure if Gavaskar has withdrawn his two letters to the BCCI demanding Rs 20 crore as continued…