In status report to Supreme Court, CoA requests to impose new constitution; urges Court to take note of ‘disruptive conduct of disqualified persons’

In its fourth status report submitted before the Supreme Court on Tuesday, the COA has made a request to invoke Article 142 of the Constitution of India to impose new constitution as per the Lodha Committee recommendations on the cricket board and state associations.

Written by Shamik Chakrabarty | Updated: July 12, 2017 2:51 pm
COA, BCCI, Supreme Court, Indian Express The COA had directed the BCCI to adopt the new constitution at its June 26 Special General Meeting (SGM). (Source: Express Archive)

The Committee of Administrators (COA) comprising Vinod Rai (chairman), Vikram Limaye and Diana Edulji, has recommended the extreme step to ensure the BCCI and its members fall in line with the Lodha reforms. In its fourth status report submitted before the Supreme Court on Tuesday, the COA has made a request to invoke Article 142 of the Constitution of India to impose new constitution – as per the Lodha Committee recommendations – on the cricket board and state associations. The Supreme Court-appointed Committee has urged that the BCCI formally adopts its new constitution “prior to September 2017”, before its next AGM. The deadline recommended for the member associations to amend their respective constitutions is December 31, 2017.

The Committee of Administrators requests this Hon’ble Court to: “issue appropriate directions (including under Article 142 of the Constitution of India) to empower the Committee of Administrators to finalize the text of the New BCCI Constitution,” the status report said, adding: “direct the Registrar of Societies under the Tamil Nadu Societies Registration Act, 1975 to give effect to the New BCCI Constitution immediately upon the Committee of Administrators submitting the same to the Registrar.”

By invoking Article 142, the Supreme Court can enforce its decrees and orders if it becomes necessary for doing complete justice. The COA feels it is now the only option left to end the BCCI’s, also state bodies, defiance. The apex court had accepted the majority of the Lodha Committee recommendations in its July 18, 2016 order. But even after a year, the cricket board and its members have refused to accept the reforms in toto. The next hearing in this case is scheduled on July 14.

The COA had directed the BCCI to adopt the new constitution at its June 26 Special General Meeting (SGM), along with incorporating the new Conflict of Interest guidelines. The members decided to set up a committee to narrow down the ‘critical’ points in the Lodha reforms instead. And when another SGM was called on July 11 to deliberate on the special committee report that had raised its objection against four points in the Lodha reforms ­–one state-one vote, three-member selection committee, cooling off period for office-bearers and powers given to the function of professionals – six state associations opposed to the general body meeting, citing a shorter notice and forcing its postponement.

The COA has also recommended that the cooling off period be applied concurrently in the BCCI and state associations so that “no person will be entitled to hold an office as an office-bearer immediately upon the conclusion of a 3-year term either in BCCI or in a State Association until the exhaustion of the cooling off period”.

Former BCCI president N Srinivasan represented the Tamil Nadu Cricket Association (TNCA) at the June 26 SGM and was reportedly pretty vocal. Srinivasan is a ‘disqualified’ as an office-bearer in the BCCI and his state association as per the Supreme Court’s January 2 order. Another ‘disqualified’ office-bearer, Saurashtra Cricket Association’s Niranjan Shah, too attended the general body. The COA has said that “such disqualified persons have vested interest in stalling implementation of the Judgment”, while maintaining that their representation “is contrary to the true intention and purport of the orders passed by this Hon’ble Court”. The COA felt that “such disqualified persons were able to effectively hijack proceedings at the SGM” and requested the court to “take a serious note of the disruptive and subversive conduct of such disqualified persons…”

The COA has lauded the acting BCCI secretary Amitabh Choudhary for showing intent in terms of implementing the Lodha reforms. It criticised cricket board treasurer Anirudh Chaudhry for remaining “a mute spectator, lacking the courage or conviction to speak in favour of the implementation…”

The COA status report has also given the BCCI a rap on the knuckles for its “intransigence” to tackle Conflict of Interest issues. Let alone incorporating the new guidelines, the BCCI has even refused to adhere to the existing norms, as it is still without an Ombudsman. The COA has recommended six names for Ombudsman, enclosed in a sealed cover, for the court’s perusal.

Ramachandra Guha had alleged conflict of interest in several quarters in the BCCI, while stepping down from the COA. The Committee has made some modifications in the clauses since, directing the BCCI management to have all cricket board contracts for two years without break. The COA has requested the court to fill vacancies in the Committee that arose following Guha’s resignation and Limaye’s impending departure. It has urged the court to consider former India cricketers Anshuman Gaekwad, Kapil Dev and Bharat Reddy as members of the Steering Committee, along with GK Pillai to establish the Players’ Association.

The COA has also said there’s a need to investigate “instances of misfeasance” in some state/member associations.

As reported by The Indian Express, the COA was expected to come up with a stinging status report after failing in its attempt to “build up consensus”. The COA had even informed the BCCI members that they would be considerate of a few issues in the Lodha reforms like one state-one vote and three-member selection committee because of practical reasons. The BCCI, however, refused to budge.

Meanwhile, a cricket board member said the BCCI’s line of defence at the next hearing could be challenging the Article 142 recommendation as according to him, it can be invoked only when there’s a legal void. “The BCCI is already registered under the Societies Act and governed by the law,” he said, demanding anonymity.

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