Imposing the first sanction, the Supreme Court on Friday prohibited the BCCI from disbursing money to state associations unless each of them furnishes an undertaking, promising to abide by all reforms proposed by the court-appointed Lodha panel.
A bench led by Chief Justice of India T S Thakur also restrained 13 of the 25 state associations from using the money they have already received from the BCCI until they pass a resolution agreeing “to undertake and to support the reforms”.
“There is no reason why state associations that are opposed to the reforms suggested by the Justice Lodha committee and accepted by this court, should either expect or draw any benefit from the release of grants by BCCI,” it held, while observing that it would be better if the BCCI moves in the “right direction” and “does not precipitate” the issue any further.
After delivering the order, the court told the BCCI’s counsel that they have time till October 17 — the next date of hearing — to consider submitting an undertaking to unequivocally comply with the Lodha panel’s recommendations.
The bench also sought a personal explanation from BCCI president Anurag Thakur by October 17 on whether he wrote to the CEO of the International Cricket Council (ICC) asking him to state that Lodha panel’s appointment was tantamount to governmental interference in the working of BCCI.
When the IPL spot fixing and betting case was at the final stage of arguments, the BCCI had argued that having a nominee of the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) in administration and intrusion of any outsider in its affairs might be construed as governmental interference by the ICC and could lead to the BCCI’s de-recognition.
Last month, ICC chief executive David Richardson claimed that Thakur had “verbally requested” ICC chief Shashank Manohar to write a letter to the BCCI seeking clarification about whether the Lodha panel could be considered governmental interference.
On disbursement of funds, the court said that presidents of the state associations concerned shall first have to place before the Lodha panel a resolution and an affidavit of compliance. “A similar affidavit with a copy of the resolution shall be filed before this court also. It is only after such affidavits are filed, that BCCI may transfer the balance amount of Rs 16.73 crore payable to the state associations,” stated the order.
Thirteen associations received Rs 16.37 crore of the total payable amount of Rs 28.73 crore from BCCI in the last week of September despite the Lodha panel asking the cricketing body not to disburse the money without putting in place a revised disbursement policy. While 12 other states were yet to be given the funds, the Lodha panel submitted its status report in the apex court, contending non-compliance by the BCCI.
During a hearing on Thursday, BCCI’s counsel Kapil Sibal and Arvind Datar justified this disbursement by arguing that the money was carried forward from the previous year and the decision to grant funds was taken in November 2015, before the apex court judgment was delivered.
But the bench remained unimpressed with this justification and said that the “BCCI appears to be non-cooperative in its attitude” in implementing the reforms suggested by the panel.
“The status report prima facie gives an impression that the BCCI has, far from lending its fullest cooperation to the committee, adopted an obstructionist and at times a defiant attitude, which the committee has taken note of and described as an impediment undermining not only the committee but even the dignity of this court with several statements and actions, which according to the committee are grossly out of order and may even constitute contempt,” it noted in the 12-page interim order on Friday.
The bench expressed displeasure at the BCCI for releasing money to state associations in defiance of the direction issued by the Lodha panel, and especially because they had refused to adopt the new Memorandum of Association (MoA) proposed by the panel.
“BCCI could and indeed ought to have avoided the disbursement of such a huge amount while Justice Lodha Committee was still examining the need for formulating a disbursement policy,” it said.