The Supreme Court Thursday appointed its former judge Justice D K Jain as the ombudsman for the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) and Lieutenant General Ravi Thodge as the third member of the Committee of Administrators (CoA). A bench of Justices SA Bobde and AM Sapre initially asked senior advocate PS Narasimha, the Amicus Curiae in the matter, regarding the urgency to appoint an ombudsman. “Will the game of cricket suffer?” asked Justice Bobde.
Narasimha replied it was necessary to sort out disputes that may arise in the daily affairs of the cricket board. If an ombudsman was there when the controversy over comments by Hardik Pandya and K L Rahul erupted, he would have been able to look into it, pointed out Narasimha.
They asked the counsel for CoA and the various state associations if they were fine with the court appointing the ombudsman. The parties agreed and suggested the name of Justice Jain. The court accepted this and ordered that Justice Jain “shall assume charge of the Office as early as possible”.
“We, accordingly, appoint Justice (retd) D K Jain as the first ombudsman under article 40, chapter nine of the constitution of BCCI framed by this court under order dated August 9, 2018,” the bench said.
The clause says the ombudsman is appointed for the purpose of providing an independent dispute resolution mechanism. The types of disputes that come under the ambit of ombudsman pertain to members, associations and the Indian Premier League teams.
The newly appointed ombudsman will look into the controversy over comments made by Hardik Pandya and K L Rahul at a talk show. The duo were suspended from the Indian team pending inquiry on January 11 this year. The CoA however revoked the suspension on January 25 after consultations with the Amicus Curiae “pending appointment and adjudication of the allegations by the BCCI Ombudsman.” The new ombudsman will now go through the materials in detail and arrive at a decision.
Narasimha then informed the court that two of the four members—Ramachandra Guha and Vikram Limaye—who were appointed by the SC to the BCCI CoA in January 2017 had resigned, leaving it with only two members – Vinod Rai and Diana Edulji.
The court had appointed a four-member CoA, headed by former Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) Rai, to govern BCCI and implement recommendations of the Justice R M Lodha panel on reforms in the cricketing body.
The bench said it had read from newspapers that “there is some sparring going on in he CoA” and asked if this was true. The CoA counsel replied that the differences were not on core issues. The court responded, saying “we thought we should like to tell the Amicus Curiae to instruct them to not bring their differences out in the open” and added “they were apparently going public” with their differences.
Justice Bobde said they were partly aware of what’s happening in the Committee and said it will appoint a third member to facilitate better administration. The court said it had a name in mind and that it will take a decision in the chamber.
Thodge, counter-insurgency specialist
Later, the written order was uploaded on the court’s website, which informed that Lt Gen Ravi Thodge had been appointed as the third member. “I am absolutely honoured that I have been given this opportunity by the honourable SC to serve as CoA member. I hope I can live up to whatever is expected of me. I have been actively involved in sporting activities during my time in the Indian Army,” said Thodge, a Param Vishisht Seva Medal awardee, has been involved in counter-insurgency operations in Punjab, North East and Jammu and Kashmir. He was commissioned into 1st Gorkha Rifles in 1977 and commanded the regiment’s 5th Battalion during the Kargil war. —(With inputs from PTI)