The Supreme Court on Monday took exception to the Board of Control for Cricket in India’s “monopoly” and “prohibitory regime” in cricket and appointed senior advocate Gopal Subramanium as amicus curiae to guide the implementation of RM Lodha panel’s recommendations.
A bench of Chief Justice T S Thakur and Justice FMI Kalifulla observed that young players are bound to fall in line with the BCCI since they would not want to put their career prospects in peril.
“Several youngsters in the country want to make their career in cricket and want to be Dhonis and Kohlis due to the glamour and glitz associated with it. They do not get equal opportunity if they are not on the right side of the BCCI. Sometimes they are prevented by the people at the helm of affairs,” remarked the bench.
It added: “You (BCCI) are running a prohibitory regime which is spread across the country. If a player has to play cricket he has to be with you. You have a complete monopoly. You have a monopoly over members and you prevent people from becoming members.”
Underlining that a balance would have to be struck and that the BCCI cannot go on exercising absolute control over everything connected with cricket, the court said: “Suppose a state from North East wants to be a member in BCCI. You are not allowing it to become a member because your writ lies there also. You don’t want to give them equal opportunity. You have complete monopoly over Team India because you select them and don’t want to give the right to anyone else. We need to balance things.”
It appointed senior advocate Subramanium as amicus in the matter and sought his assistance to explore as to how the recommendations of Justice R M Lodha committee, which has favoured large-scale structural reforms, could be implemented.The court said it cannot fathom why there should be resistance to the recommendation of ‘one state-one vote’.
“We make it clear that we are not concerned with any state cricket associations, but if they want to associate with BCCI, then they have to reform themselves. You will have to fall in line and reform yourselves or you will lose your membership,” the bench observed.
Senior advocate Arvind Datar, appearing for Tamil Nadu Cricket Association, had complained that ‘one state-one vote’ will create inequality. The bench then said when one country, irrespective of its population, constitutes one vote in International Cricket Council (ICC), then why cannot the formula work for BCCI.
The bench retorted: “When the ICC accepts the principle of one-country-one-vote irrespective of population, then why can’t the similar formula of one-state-one-vote work for BCCI? It will result in equality to play cricket.”
It pointed out that the court has already held that if any association is discharging public functions then it is obligated to give equal opportunity to all.
“If any cricket club or association wants to do anything, we are least bothered. We are not here to reform every cricketing club. But if any institution which is discharging public duty like the BCCI, then any organization or association associated with it will have to reform itself,” emphasised the court.
Senior advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for Baroda Cricket Association, said reforms suggested by the Lodha panel are not under constitutional principle and may or may not be implemented by the BCCI, but state associations, which have their own set of rules, cannot implement them.
He added there cannot be uniform rules and regulations as there may be problems in following them owing to different members having different compositions, laws and bye-laws. The arguments will resume on the next date of hearing.