The Supreme Court on Wednesday directed the BCCI to defer its Annual General Meeting (AGM) and elections of office-bearers till January 31, 2015, while maintaining the “entire game of cricket will collapse if people’s faith is not restored” and steps were not taken to correct the wrongs.
A bench of Justices TS Thakur and FMI Kalifulla asked the BCCI to adjourn its AGM, slated to be held on December 17, as the court continued its hearing into allegations of betting and conflict of interest in the IPL 2013.
“You have to understand that the entire game of cricket and its edifice would collapse if such kind of arrangement is allowed to continue and if people’s confidence is not restored. If you (BCCI) fail in your duty, can’t we get it corrected? If there is some temptation for a thief to enter, why can’t you stop it? Why are you averse to it?” the bench asked BCCI.
“We are still in the process of hearing. It will take some time to conclude so directions are issued that the annual general meeting to elect office-bearers of the BCCI shall stand postponed by January 31,” it said.
The order came after BCCI counsel CA Sundaram cited some technical problems in allowing the incumbent office-bearers in the board to continue after the expiry of their term in September, and sought directions from the bench.
As the hearing began on Wednesday, N Srinivasan’s counsel Kapil Sibal handed over a note to the bench with an undertaking from the ousted BCCI chief. “Mr N Srinivasan undertakes that if he is elected as president of BCCI, till the (proposed) committee suggests the procedure to deal with the issue of conflict of interest, he will not attend any IPL governing council meeting or any other IPL related discussion in any meeting of working committee or general body meeting of the BCCI,” it stated. The note added that the committee could suggest sanctions to be imposed, in accordance with applicable IPL rules, on person prima facie found to be involved in the act of betting by the Mudgal panel, besides determining the liability of the franchisees.
It said that another term of reference for the proposed committee could be “to consider and suggest a mechanism to identify the potential conflict of interest in the BCCI and to suggest the procedure to be adopted for dealing with situations of potential conflict of interest”.
However, the BCCI opposed Srinivasan’s suggestion to let the new committee adjudicate upon the issues relating to conflict of interest, raising the question of its autonomy as a private society registered under the Societies’ Registration Act. Sundaram told the bench that while the BCCI was agreeable on the new panel looking into disciplinary aspect and prescribe punishment, conflict of interest issue should be left to the BCCI governing body for final decision.
The bench, however, replied that the BCCI’s apprehensions on autonomy may be “premature” since it wanted the new panel to be equivalent to the cricket body’s disciplinary committee with the only difference being that it would have nominees appointed by the court.
It also took a dig at the BCCI asking how difficult it could be for the board to amend its rules in view of previous instances when it changed rules to allow a BCCI member to own a team and also did away with the policy of rotation in selecting the BCCI chief. Apparently, the beneficiary in both the cases was Srinivasan, who owned Chennai Super Kings while being at the helm of BCCI.
Meanwhile, appearing for India Cements, advocate Mahesh Jethmalani said their franchisee CSK could not be held responsible for betting by one of its officials, Gurunath Meiyappan.
“I concede he (Meiyappan) is a team official, guilty of betting, only on the aspect of betting. He did it once and lost a large sum. He did it not from the match venue but from home,” said the lawyer. The court, however, asked him, “If the ICL (India Cements Limited) open to any punishment due to your admission. Can your franchise be not cancelled or your MD (Srinivasan) be not held guilty?” He, while citing the operational rules of the BCCI, said that any infraction from the lowest level of official should not lead to any action against the team.
SRINIVASAN VS BCCI!
Srinivasan, through his counsel Kapil Sibal, told Supreme Court that the committee’s (proposed by the SC to study the issue of conflict) term of reference could be “to consider and suggest a mechanism to identify the potential conflict of interest in the BCCI and to suggest the procedure to be adopted for dealing with situations of potential conflict of interest”
But BCCI counsel CA Sundaram opposed it raising the question of the board’s autonomy as a private society registered under the Societies’ Registration Act. Sundaram said while the BCCI was agreeable on the new panel looking into the disciplinary aspect and prescribe punishment, conflict of interest issue should be left to the BCCI governing body.