By Qaiser Mohammad Ali
New Delhi, Dec 9 (IANS) Indian cricket board president Sourav Ganguly, secretary Jay Shah, and joint secretary Jayesh George, whose tenures have ended, would continue at least till the third week of January, when the Supreme Court would next hear the cricket reforms case. Besides ordering this, the court on Wednesday disposed of a “substantial number of” the 102 applications attached with the case.
The court vacated the restraint on other courts from entertaining any dispute linked to Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) and state cricket associations. In March 2019, the top court had restrained all courts from hearing any matter linked to BCCI and state associations till senior advocate P.S. Narasimha, amicus curiae and the SC-appointed mediator, submitted his report on pending disputes.
The court ordered the case to be listed in the third week of January.
“A substantial number of applications were disposed by the court today. Only some cases remains. The BCCI application seeking amendments to its constitution was not taken up today. The court asked the case to be listed in the third week of January,” Narasimha told IANS after the hearing.
The deferment means that Ganguly, Shah, and George, who were elected on October 23 last year, would continue in the New Year, despite their terms having got over at different stages in the past few months.
Also, the BCCI has convened an annual general meeting on December 24, and Ganguly, in his capacity as BCCI president, would chair that meeting, with Shah and George in attendance.
The new BCCI constitution, written by a three-member SC-appointed Lodha Committee and approved by the apex court, makes it mandatory for its office-bearers — president, vice-president, secretary, joint secretary, and treasurer — to go into a three-year cooling-off period after being in office for six consecutive years. These six years can be either in the BCCI along, entirely with a BCCI-affiliated association, or a combination of both tenures.
An administrator can return for another term of three years after the cooling-off period, which will make it nine years. In all, an administrator can serve the BCCI for a total of nine years and another nine years at its affiliates, though with the mandatory cooling-off periods.
This is one of the crucial rules on which the edifice of the new constitution has been erected. It is enshrined in the BCCI constitution that it cannot “repeal/add/amend/alter” any rule without the express approval of the SC. But this Rule 45 is among the seven amendments that BCCI has listed in its application. The BCCI wants this amended and be permitted to change any rule by a three-fourth majority of the general body members present and voting — without seeking SC’s permission. If this single rule is amended, the spirit and soul of the reforms would die an instant death, and then, sooner or later, the BCCI can make amendments whenever it wants.
The court also heard 102 interlocutory applications (IAs), which Narasimha had meticulously divided into four categories, and disposed of a substantial number of these. These IAs are connected with the main case (Civil Appeal 4235/2014 and Civil Appeal 1155/2015). The four categories were: (1) Those that can be disposed of with liberty to avail appropriate remedies (total applications 25); (2) Those that have become infructuous for various reasons (total: 35); (3) Applications successfully mediated (total: 28); (4) Contesting interlocutory applications (total: 14).
“A large number of cases that were related to funds etc. have become infructuous while the court said that in the state cricket associations where the amicus curiae [Narasimha] had successfully mediated and helped them hold elections, like the Karnataka State Cricket Association (KSCA), were also disposed of,” said Narasimha after the hearing.
Out of these 102 IAs, there were as many as 17 instances in which the applicants have prayed for the recall of the various judgments/orders, with the Tamil Nadu Cricket Association (TNCA), KSCA, and Haryana Cricket Association (HCA) leading the way.
Some of these have been disposed of and only 14 applications are left on the table. These are from the BCCI, the TNCA, the HCA, the KSCA, the Railways Sports Promotion Board, the Services Sports Control Board, the Association of Indian Universities, Niranjan Shah, a former BCCI secretary and president of Saurashtra Cricket Association, the National Cricket Club, the Telengana Cricket Association, and the Porbandar District Cricket Association.
Some of these, like the TNCA and HCA, have filed multiple applications. Both are “seeking recall of various directions of the Supreme Court and of Justice Lodha Committee Recommendations”.