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Monday, Dec 05, 2022

SC lets BCCI amend cooling-off clause, sets stage for Sourav Ganguly and Jay Shah to continue

The court also granted the request to allow amendments to do away with restrictions on those holding “public office” from contesting BCCI elections. The bar would now only apply to a minister or government servant.

Former Indian cricketer and current BCCI (Board Of Control for Cricket in India) president Sourav Ganguly with BCCI secretary Jay Shah during. (Source: PTI)

IN AN order that paves the way for BCCI president Sourav Ganguly and secretary Jay Shah to continue for another term in office, the Supreme Court on Wednesday allowed the cricket board’s request to permit amendments to its constitution so as to modify the requirement of a mandatory three-year cooling-off period for its officials.

“Bearing in mind the purpose for which the cooling-off period was introduced, we are of the considered view that the proposed amendment would not dilute the object and purpose of introducing a cooling-off period with the result that the cooling-off period would come into effect once a candidate has completed two consecutive terms either in the BCCI and the state associations. We therefore accept the proposed amendment,” a bench of Justices D Y Chandrachud and Hima Kohli said in its order.

This means that those who have been part of a state association for two consecutive three-year terms will not have to undergo a cooling-off period if they are contesting for a BCCI post — and, if elected, they can continue in the BCCI for six years (two terms). However, if a person has been a member of a state association for two terms and wants to contest again for a state association post, he/she will have to undergo a cooling-off for three years.

In effect, an individual can continue to remain in a state body and the BCCI together for an unbroken period of 12 years.

The court also granted the request to allow amendments to do away with restrictions on those holding “public office” from contesting BCCI elections. The bar would now only apply to a minister or government servant.

On the cooling-off period, the apex court pointed out that it had “adopted the rationale that after an individual holds two successive terms in office, either in the BCCI or in any state association or a combination of two, the cooling-off period would begin”.

It said, “…the effective consequence of the existing position is that…a person who is elected as an office bearer in a state association for two consecutive terms would have to undergo a cooling-off period…a person who is elected as an office bearer of BCCI would have to undergo the cooling-off period and…a person who is elected as an office bearer in a state association for one term followed by election as an office bearer of BCCI for one term would similarly have to undergo a cooling-off period.”

It noted, “The consequence therefore is even though a person has held office as an elected office bearer for only one term in the BCCI, such an individual would have to undergo a cooling-off period.”

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Monopoly versus continuity

The BCCI “cooling-off” debate is one between monopoly and continuity. In 2016, the original Supreme Court order on the issue had asked office-bearers to take a break after every three-year tenure, stressing the importance of fresh blood in cricket administration.

The bench said the BCCI had submitted that “the application of a cooling-off period to an individual who has undergone only one term at a particular level (BCCI or state association as the case may be) is unduly stringent and needs to be modified having regard to the purpose for which the cooling-off period was introduced”.

It also permitted the plea to do away with the condition that prevents cricketers from holding any office or post in any other sports or athletic association or federation from contesting for a BCCI post. The board had submitted that “since several existing cricketers of eminence have been associated with other sporting activities after their retirement from cricket, there is no reason to disqualify them on that ground”.

As per the present constitution, those who are charged of having committed a criminal offence are disqualified. The BCCI plea had sought a modification so that only those who are convicted of an offence and are sentenced to a term of imprisonment are disqualified, saying “this amendment…is intended to protect office bearers who may be subjected to frivolous prosecutions”.

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Allowing the requests, the court said “…the amendments as proposed by the BCCI do not detract from the basic purpose and object underlying the judgment of this court. The amendment as proposed is hence permitted to be effected”.

Earlier, based on the recommendations of the Lodha Committee, which was set up by the Supreme Court in 2015 to bring reforms in cricket administration, BCCI officials were to undergo a mandatory cooling-off period of three years after one three-year term — with a maximum of three terms allowed in all.

In 2018, on a plea by the board, the Supreme Court allowed its constitution to be amended to give office-bearers a combined unbroken stint of six years, combining tenures in state bodies and the BCCI.

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Shah and Ganguly had assumed office in 2019, after holding state association posts, and since then were awaiting an order from the Supreme Court in the pending BCCI plea.

First published on: 14-09-2022 at 05:09:27 pm
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