New Delhi: Even as the Justice Lodha committee on Wednesday moved the Supreme Court, seeking the removal of the Board of Control for Cricket in India’s (BCCI) office-bearers, T.S. Thakur, Chief Justice of India (CJI) warned the board that non implementation of the panel’s recommendations will be viewed seriously by the court.
Thakur, heading a three judge bench which also included Justices A.M. Kanwilkar and D.Y. Chandrachud, expressed the bench’s displeasure about the turn of events to senior counsel Arvind P Datarand who is representing the BCCI. He said “the board has to fall in line with the recommendations. If the BCCI thinks that they are law unto themselves, then they are wrong. They have to comply with the directions of the court. You [BCCI] are behaving like lords. Fall in line otherwise we will make you fall in line. [The] BCCI is bringing the system to disrepute by not following the directions.”
When Datar stated that the board had already complied with most of the court’s directions and would gradually comply with the rest, the CJI said “BCCI, it seems, will go to the extent of defying court orders. We had been anticipating such disregard from the board. We don’t appreciate such tactics by the BCCI. We have no difficulty in passing orders to make sure our previous orders are implemented.”
Thakur made these observations after Gopal Sankaranarayanan, counsel for the Lodha panel, informed the court that the panel had filed a status report seeking the removal of the board’s top brass, including its president Anurag Thakur and secretary Ajay Shirke, because of the board’s continued non-compliance in implementing the court’s orders. Sankaranaryanan pleaded with the court for an early listing in the matter.
The bench also took a dig at the board’s counsel for not fixing the flaws in the board’s petition for seeking a review of the court’s July 17 judgment which asked the board to accept the panel’s recommendations and implement them in six months. The bench directed the board to file its response to the status report by October 6 and scheduled a hearing for the same day.
According to the report: “While the Office Bearers of the BCCI gave assurances to the SC Committee on 9.8.2016, 25.8.2016 and 20.9.2016 that they would cooperate with the Committee towards fulfilling the directions of this Court (subject to any modification or review), the events over the past weeks have shown that this is not the case. 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, and member associations have not been duly intimated about the directions of the Committee and the timelines fixed by it.”
The report continued, “Apart from the above clear transgressions, the BCCI has repeatedly taken steps to undermine the Committee and this court, with several statements and actions which are grossly out of order and would even constitute contempt.” Listing some of the statements, the report cited the acceptance of the interim report of Justice Katju and the uploading of the same on the BCCI website.
Meanwhile Justice Katju made several derogatory remarks about the members of the judiciary and of the committee at a press conference organised by the BCCI. Katju in his report said, “the order of 18.7.2016 is nothing but an unwarranted attempt by the Court at the behest of the Lodha Committee at enacting legislation which tramples upon the rights of citizens and associations and seriously impinges on the legislative functions of not only Parliament but also respective State Assemblies.” And then continued, “A reading of the above and other recommendations show that the Lodha Committee has run amok in the missionary zeal of a Crusader brushing aside all laws and rules to fulfill its holy aim and obtaining the Holy Grail.”
He further added, “the Lodha Committee is behaving like Don Quixote fighting with the wind mills, and like an unbridled horse with a bit in its teeth at full gallop crushing and trampling all obstacles in its path.”
The report added, “Despite several emails sent to the President BCCI as well as a direction to appear on 9.8.2016, there has been not a single response by him to the Committee. He has also requested the ICC to issue a letter stating that this Committee amounts to Governmental 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 Hon’ble Court and this Committee.” As if this is not enough, BCCI top officials have also been putting pressure on ICC to issue a letter “threatening sanctions and suspension from the world cricket if there is any intervention from either government or judiciary”.
The report quoted Anurag Thakur, BCCI president who said “ People who have never even played the game, they are trying to govern the board. Efforts are being made to cut BCCI’s roots.” It then continued, “With as many as 7 of the Timelines to be complied with by 30.9.2016, it is now clear that the BCCI is in no position to ensure that the timelines mandated to be laid down by this Hon’ble Court are complied with. The conduct of the Office Bearers of the BCCI in not following the directions of the SC Committee has created serious impediments in the implementation of the directions of this Hon’ble Court.”
The report said the BCCI has not issued directives to the member associations despite explicit directions from the SC committee on at least four separate occasions. According to the report,”The Selectors of Men, Women and Junior cricket are announced contrary to the norms approved by this court. The BCCI prescribed an undertaking for nomination to the post of BCCI Secretary which is not in accordance with the norms approved by this Court. No second status report has been furnished although it was undertaken to do so within a fortnight after 25.8.2016. Though the AGM was held on 21.9.2016, the minutes of the same have not been furnished to the SC Committee.”
In view of this, the committee sought a court direction for the removal of the BCCI’s current office-bearers with immediate effect. And demanded that the court “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; direct that all decisions of the BCCI taken after 18.7.2016 which are contrary to the judgment dated 18.7.2016 of this Court and/or the directives of the SC Committee for implementing the same are non est and ineffective; and any other direction as may be deemed fit for the implementation of the judgment dated 18.7.2016.”