With the Supreme Court coming down heavily on the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) for its delay, as well as reluctance, to implement several reforms the Lodha panel had recommended, senior Board officials seem to have almost given up their fight against the panel.
While the court has threatened to pull up the current set of office-bearers and install a separate committee to helm the Board, there is speculation that many from the top brass could tender their resignation in the Special General Meeting scheduled this Friday, which is also the deadline the court had set for the Board to accept the directives.
A BCCI official told The Indian Express about the sense of gloom within the Board: “We have no option left now, we are helpless. We have to accept all reforms by September 30.”
On Wednesday, the Supreme Court said it would make the BCCI “fall in line” and “not allow them to defy orders any more”, after the court-appointed Lodha panel requested it to replace the Board’s management with independent administrators in view of the cricketing body’s resistance to reforms.
Chief Justice of India T S Thakur pulled up the BCCI, saying that the Board must remember it is neither a “law unto itself” nor “the lord”. Thakur also called for an explanation by October 6 on all instances of non-compliance reported by the Lodha panel. Justice Thakur heads the special bench that has passed a string of directives in the past to usher in reforms in the cricketing body after the IPL spot-fixing and betting scandal broke out.
“Does the BCCI think it can violate court orders and get away? BCCI thinks it is a law unto itself. But we know how to get our orders implemented. BCCI thinks it is the lord… You (BCCI) better fall in line or we will make you fall in line. The conduct of the BCCI is in poor taste,” said the CJI after the panel’s status report on implementation of reforms by the Board was presented to him.
In its report, the panel sought removal of BCCI’s top brass, including its president Anurag Thakur and secretary Ajay Shirke, for violation of court orders. The panel sought replacement of the current management with a set of administrators who would “ensure the smooth transition from the old to the new system recommended by the committee”.
Advocate Gopal Sankaranarayanan, representing the panel, complained that the BCCI officials sought to stall reforms at every stage and were trying to undermine the authority of the court as well as panel members by issuing controversial statements. Apprising the CJI that the panel was kept in the dark about the meetings and decision taken therein, the counsel pleaded that all decisions taken by the BCCI found contrary to the court’s main judgment of July 18 be declared “non-est and ineffective”.
Justice Thakur took strong exception to these instances of breach and cautioned the Board against adverse orders. “These are serious allegations… BCCI has to follow directions of the court. BCCI, it seems, will go to the extent of defying court orders. We had been anticipating such disregard from the Board. We don’t appreciate such tactics by the BCCI. We have no difficulty in passing orders to make sure our previous orders are implemented,” said the CJI.
Meanwhile, senior lawyer Arvind Datar, who had appeared in the batch of matters relating to the BCCI but was present in court for some other matter, walked to the front as the CJI took up the matter. Datar claimed that the BCCI had complied with most of the directions and that they would gradually comply with the rest.
But the CJI said: “BCCI is bringing the system to disrepute by not following the directions… Law cannot be defied. We are not happy about the way things are going on. You will have to fall in line with the directions of the court.”
The bench has now posted the matter for hearing on October 6, when it will examine the BCCI’s response to the Lodha panel’s contentions.
By its verdict on July 18, the Supreme Court had accepted most of the major recommendations of the Lodha panel, headed by former CJI R M Lodha. It had ruled that no minister and civil servant can become a member in the BCCI and that any such member stands disqualified now.