New Delhi: The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) on Tuesday moved the Supreme Court for a review of the July 18 verdict accepting the recommendations of the Justice R.M. Lodha Committee for implementing sweeping administrative reforms in the board.
In its petition, the BCCI said that the judgment suffered from several errors that were apparent on the face of the record and required a review by a five-judge bench, of which the Chief Justice of India (CJI), T. S. Thakur should not be a member. Justice Ibrahim Kalifulla, who was part of the CJI bench, retired on July 22.
Soon after the verdict was delivered, the board appointed former apex court judge, Markandey Katju, to study the judgment. In his report Justice Katju had assailed the verdict and had suggested for a review. Accordingly, a review of the verdict was filed yesterday.
The BCCI faulted the judgment for non-consideration and/or non-examination of the provisions of the Tamil Nadu Societies Registration Act, 1975, under which it is registered, before accepting various recommendations that are contrary to the provisions thereof; interference with the internal functioning and/or management of the board, which is outside the scope of judicial review or interference; treatment of the committee’s observations as ‘findings’ despite the proceedings of the committee not being an inquiry; usurpation of legislative powers and consequent violation of the doctrine of separation of powers; and empowering the committee to deal with matters which the apex court and/or the committee does not have necessary expertise to deal with.
The BCCI pointed out that the judgment sought to frame legislative measures for a private autonomous society in a field that was already occupied by legislation, both parliamentary and state. The judgment has neither correctly noted the contentions and facts placed by the board, nor has it dealt with the same.
It said that the judgment was unconstitutional and contrary to many binding precedents of the apex court and that it adversely affected and nullified the fundamental rights granted to citizens under Article 19(1)(c) of the constitution. The judgment further outsourced judicial power to a committee of retired judges, which was impermissible by law.
The BCCI said that it was not put on notice that the observations contained in the report, on the basis of which the committee had made recommendations, would be treated as final and binding ‘findings’ against the board regarding its working. If the BCCI had been put on notice that the said observations would be treated as final and binding, it would have assailed the said ‘findings’.
The board failed to do so because it proceeded on the basis that since the proceedings of the committee were not a full-fledged fact-finding inquiry, the committee had only made certain observations in order to justify its recommendations and it had not arrived at any ‘findings’ against it. This has resulted in a violation of the principles of natural justice.
The review petition should therefore be heard in an open court so as to give the BCCI an opportunity of assailing the observations of the committee, which are now sought to be treated as ‘findings’ by the impugned judgment.
The BCCI said that the impugned judgment proceeded on the erroneous basis that the recommendations made by the committee are the only way of improving its working. Neither the committee, nor the apex court, has the necessary expertise to determine the best way of administering cricket in the country and it should be left to the board to implement such recommendations as it finds acceptable in a phased manner.
The board also said that the recent observation of Chief Justice Thakur that the “BCCI treatment” is to be meted out to another entity the All India Football Federation in another case, ex-facie shows that the Chief Justice has a closed mind and will summarily dismiss the review petition without listing the same before another bench of five judges for hearing in the open court.
It pleaded for a hearing in the open court and for a recall of the judgment.
On July 18 the court accepted the inclusion of a bar on ministers or civil servants from holding any post in the BCCI and an age cap of 70 years for every post. It rejected the BCCI’s opposition to ‘change’ a bench of Chief Justice Thakur and Kalifulla and said that the changes suggested by Justice Lodha panel were necessary to ensure transparency and accountability in the administration.
The bench said the aspect that needs to be borne in mind is that neither the BCCI, nor anyone else, has assailed the findings recorded by the committee insofar as the deep-rooted malaise that pervades in the working of the BCCI is concerned.