The Committee of Administrators (CoA) thinks the order passed by the BCCI Ombudsman and Ethics Officer Justice (Retd.) DK Jain, with regards to the conflict of interest charges against Sachin Tendulkar (he was cleared), Sourav Ganguly and VVS Laxman, is “rigid” to the extent that if it is implemented, around 20 Indian commentators will be out of reckoning and the BCCI will have no option but to hire former players from overseas. It is learnt that the Supreme Court-appointed Committee has decided to place the matter before the court to seek certain clarifications.
“The CoA thinks that it (the order) is very rigid; the interpretation of a commentator. Commentators are commentators, being used by the BCCI. Somebody is doing vernacular commentary, somebody is with Star, some other player is writing for vernacular papers. In this way, the CoA has to dump 20 of our own people and hire Ricky Ponting, for example, or somebody else from overseas,” a source close to the CoA told The Indian Express.
The CoA has discussed the issue with amicus curiae PS Narasimha before deciding to place it before the Supreme Court. According to the source, the suggestion from the CoA to the Ethics Officer was to go by the spirit, and not the letter, of the law. “The CoA has told him (Justice Jain) it needs certain clarifications. And now for that clarification, the Committee is going back to the court,” the source informed.
Ganguly and Laxman have been found by Justice Jain to be in conflict of interest because of their roles as commentators and the positions they hold in Indian cricket. Ganguly and Laxman are members of the BCCI’s Cricket Advisory Committee (CAC) alongside their posts with IPL franchises Delhi Capitals and Sunrisers Hyderabad respectively. Ganguly is also the president of the Cricket Association of Bengal (CAB). Tendulkar, on the other hand, was cleared of any conflict of interest because he recused himself from the CAC. Tendulkar is Mumbai Indians’ mentor and also did commentary during the World Cup.
Justice Jain heard the players concerned and deemed that they have violated Rule 38 (4) of the BCCI constitution, which states that a person cannot hold two positions concurrently. Sixteen positions are listed in the Clause: “Player (current), selector/member of cricket committee, team official, commentator, match official, administrator/office-bearer, electoral officer, ombudsman & ethics officer, auditor, any person who is governance, management or employee of a franchisee, member of a standing committee, CEO & managers, office-bearer of a Member (state association), service provider (legal, financial etc.), contractual entity (broadcast, security, contractor etc.) and owner of cricket academy”.
Justice Jain had said that he interpreted the rules in accordance with the Lodha Committee recommendations accepted by the Supreme Court. He, however, gave Ganguly and Laxman the liberty to challenge the order apart from putting the onus on the BCCI to decide the future course of action.
Hearing likely on July 30
Meanwhile, the CoA is hopeful that the BCCI elections will be held as per schedule on October 22. It is subject to the Supreme Court’s approval though and the next hearing is likely on July 30. Before the BCCI polls, state associations will have to implement their constitution, conduct their own elections and nominate the representatives for the BCCI.
Asked about this, the source said: “The election is going as per schedule. Some members are raising issue like Article 19(1) (c) – it deals with the formation of associations or unions under the Fundamental Rights in the Indian Constitution – and the court has not adjudicated on that. But the court asked the amicus curiae to mediate and he has given his report. So the CoA is proceeding ahead. Unless the court says no, and the CoA can’t do anything about that, it (elections) will be held as per schedule.”
According to him, more than 20 states have already implemented their new constitutions, although 16 of them haven’t appointed electoral officers yet. Only six associations are still not compliant, as they have issues about clubs (as voting members and the whole restructuring)