New Delhi: In a stern warning, the Supreme Court today told BCCI that it would make the cricket body “fall in line” if it did not abide by the court orders and saying the cash-rich organisation cannot behave like “Lords” and think they are “law unto themselves”.
The warning and admonition came after Justice R M Lodha committee said the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) had “ignored” the apex court’s directions and its President Anurag Singh Thakur had given several “very objectionable statements” undermining the court.
The Lodha panel, which sought apex court’s direction to “supersede” the current BCCI office bearers with immediate effect and appoint a panel of administrators to ensure “smooth transition” from the old to the new system recommended by it, told the court that all decisions taken by BCCI which were contrary to the July 18 verdict be held “non est” (does not exist).
It said the conduct of BCCI office bearers in not complying with the apex court directions and repeatedly issuing statements to undermine the authority of the court and members of the Lodha panel, had “created serious impediments” in implementation of the apex court directions.
“If BCCI thinks that they are law unto themselves, then they are wrong. They have to comply with the directions of the court,” a bench headed by Chief Justice T S Thakur said.
“You (BCCI) are behaving like Lords. Fall in line otherwise we will make you fall in line,” the bench, also comprising Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud, warned and added that “BCCI is bringing the system to disrepute by not following the directions”.
Senior advocate Arvind Datar, appearing for BCCI, said they had complied with most of the directions and would gradually comply with the rest.
To this, the bench said, “law needs not to be defied. We are not happy about the things going on. We anticipated this approach from BCCI but this is not done. You will have to fall in line with the directions of the court.”
The bench has given BCCI time till October 6 to file its reply to the status report of the Lodha panel, which has recommended structural reforms in the cricket body.
In its status report filed in the apex court, the Lodha panel said that some of the decisions, including Ajay Shirke’s unanimous election as Secretary of BCCI for remaining part of the term, taken by BCCI at its September 21 annual general meeting were violative of directives issued by the committee on August 31 and “frustrates the implementation” of the apex court’s judgement.
The Lodha committee further said that Thakur had not responded to the several e-mails sent to him and also the direction to appear before the panel on August 9.
“He (BCCI President) has also requested the ICC to issue a letter stating that this committee amounts to govermental interference. In addition, over the course of the last few weeks, several very objectionable statements have been made by him to the press which undermine this (Supreme) court and this committee,” the panel’s report said.
It said that besides the “clear transgressions”, the BCCI had repeatedly taken steps to undermine the committee and the apex court with several statements and actions which were “grossly out of order and would even constitute contempt.”
“Directions of this court have been ignored, actions have been taken to present a fait accompli to the committee, the directives of the committee have been breached, the member associations have not been duly intimated about the directions of the committee and the timelines fixed by it,” it said.
During today’s hearing, the apex court pulled up BCCI, asking it to “fall in line” after Lodha panel sought removal of the top brass of BCCI, including Thakur and Shirke, for non-compliance of the apex court directions.
In its status report, the panel sought the apex court’s direction to “supersede the present office bearers of the BCCI with immediate effect, and appoint in their place a panel of administrators of the BCCI to ensure the smooth transition from the old to the new system recommended by the committee.”
Besides this, it also sought a direction to that “all decisions of the BCCI taken after July 18, 2016 which are contrary to the judgement dated July 18, 2016 of this court and/or the directives of the SC committee for implementing the same are non est and ineffective.”
The panel further said the BCCI was in no position to ensure that the seven timelines, mandated to be laid down by the apex court till September 30, were complied with.
It said the report was restricted to the non-compliance by BCCI and does not deal with conduct of the state associations and “if the need arises, as regards the state associations, a further status report will be submitted.”
The panel said minutes of BCCI’s AGM held on September 21 has not been furnished to them and they came to know about the decisions taken in the meeting from media advisory uploaded on the board’s website.
Regarding some decisions taken at the AGM, like setting up of the all India senior selection committee, authorising the President and Secretary to appoint ombudsman for 2016-17 as term of Justice A P Shah has come to an end, the status report said it was in violation of the panel’s directives.
It also said the decision that BCCI President would represent the board in the International Cricket Council (ICC) and Asian Cricket Council (ACC) and holding of an emergent special general meeting on September 30 in Mumbai to consider amendments to BCCI’s rules and regulations as recommended by Justice Lodha panel, were in violation of the directives.
Referring to some of the impediments, the committee said the board has not issued directives to members associations despite directions from panel on at least four occasions and the selectors of men, women and junior cricket were announced contrary to the norms approved by apex court.
“It was stated in the BCCI report dated August 25 that an EGM would be called ‘not later than September 28’ for the ‘formal adoption’ of the new memorandum. The BCCI did not honour this assurance and on the other hand, at the AGM of September 21, took decisions contrary to the said assurances by deciding that the EGM would be on September 30 ‘to consider’ amendments to the rules and regulations,” it said.
“The BCCI has prescribed an undertaking for nomination to the post of BCCI secretary which is not in accordance with the norms approved by this court,” it said, adding, “no second status report has been furnished although it was undertaken to do so within a fortnight after August 25.”
The report said that despite continually claiming that all steps taken would be subject to the review petition filed, “it transpired that the same is in defects with diary number ..even as of date and there has been no effort to rectify the same and have it numbered and listed.”
The report said several actions taken by BCCI, which were grossly out of order and would even constitute contempt, includes the “acceptance of the so-called interim report of Justice (Markandey) Katju and the uploading of the same on BCCI website.”
It also referred to the press conference organised by BCCI where Justice Katju had allegedly made several derogatory remarks about the members of judiciary and the committee.
The report also referred to the “release of a letter to the press where the secretary BCCI implies that remarks were made at the committee’s meeting of August 9 which projected the selectors as ‘depraved and despicable'”.