The Supreme Court on Friday directed the BCCI president Anurag Thakur to file a personal affidavit regarding the conversation he had with the ICC about government interference, in particular the appointment of a CAG member in the Apex council. Far from being perturbed, though, Thakur and the BCCI are ready with their defence, and are set to drag Shashank Manohar, the current ICC chairman, into the issue.
It’s learnt that Thakur will inform the court that that the BCCI had first raised the flag against the inclusion of CAG when Manohar was the president, and hence Thakur had thought it would be best to seek Manohar ‘s views about the same issue after he became the ICC chairman.
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Thakur’s approach to ICC over the CAG appointee became an issue in September when Dave Richardson, the ICC CEO, was quoted as saying that Anurag Thakur had “verbally requested” the world body chief Shashank Manohar to write a letter to the Indian cricket board, citing the Lodha Committee recommendation of appointing a government watchdog – the CAG – and asking for clarification about whether it could be considered as government interference.
That has led to the SC’s demand for an affidavit from Thakur on Friday.
The board had first broached the subject of CAG in an affidavit to the SC about the anomalies of Lodha Committee recommendations in March, under the leadership of Manohar. “Manohar was the president of the board then and he had gone through complete affidavit. Manohar had told Thakur that ICC will suspend BCCI if government interferes with the board’s functioning. As CAG is a government nominee, it was decided that board will object to this recommendation. So when Thakur became BCCI president, he asked Manohar, who is serving as ICC chairman,” a top BCCI official said.
“The board has just done what its former BCCI president Manohar had told and Anurag just queried about it. We will be putting these points in Thakur’s affidavit,” another source reaffirmed.
In March, after the affidavit was filed, KK Venugopal, the BCCI counsel, had told the court, “ICC abhored government interference in the management of cricket boards and appointment of the CAG’s nominee would amount to a government official being part of the board’s panel.
However, SC didn’t buy that argument. “You don’t even want the CAG nominee on the outside as your conscience keeper?” Chief Justice Thakur said. “Suppose we ask you to put this nominee on the board, you fear that the ICC will disenfranchise you for complying with an order of the Supreme Court of India to have a person who gives you good advice… surely you don’t grudge good advice, do you?”
The relevant article in the ICC rulebook is article 2.9 which states: “Members must provide for (a) free elections and/or (b) appointments from amongst their members for their executive body or nominees from outside their members appointed by their executive body. Where a government interferes in the administration of cricket by a Member, including but not limited to interference in operational matters… the Executive Board shall have the power to suspend or refuse to recognise that Member, subject to the provisions of Article 2.7.”
Meanwhile, BCCI old hand Ratnakar Shetty, currently BCCI’s General Manager (cricket operation), was also directed by the top court to come clear by placing on affidavit copies of the document and BCCI resolution that authorised him to file affidavits on its behalf before the Lodha panel, which had passed a slew of directions for massive restructuring of cricket bodies in the country. Shetty was asked to file a personal affidavit enclosing the resolution which authorised him.