In a double tribute to transparency in sport administration and women cricketers, the Supreme Court on Monday appointed a four-member Committee of Administrators (CoA) led by former Comptroller and Auditor General of India, Vinod Rai. Former woman Test cricketer, Diana Edulji, is also part of the CoA.
Besides Mr. Rai and Ms. Edulji, the Supreme Court appointed noted historian Ramchandra Guha and IDFC MD and CEO Vikram Limaye, who is expected to provide the committee with expertise in financial matters.
They will function as the new interim bosses of the BCCI and run the day-to-day administration of the cricket body till the Lodha reforms are fully implemented and elections held.
A three-judge Bench headed by Justice Dipak Misra avoided the "dark mazes" and pleas for fresh hearings thrown at it by the BCCI, its State members and non-State actors to take the step forward in the direction laid out by the Justice R.M. Lodha Committee recommendations.
The BCCI CEO, who was in the driver's seat since the Supreme Court ousted former the BCCI President Anurag Thakur and secretary Ajay Shirke in a January 2 order for stalling Lodha reforms, was ordered to submit a report to the new Committee detailing the level of compliance achieved by the Indian cricket Board and its members in adopting the Lodha recommendations upheld by th apex court on July 18, 2016.
The BCCI CEO has to submit the report to the new Committee within a week. Following which, the Committee of Administrators has been given four weeks time to scrutinise the compliance achieved and report to the Supreme Court in four weeks. The next date of hearing is March 27.
"Let the Committee of Administrators find out how many directions of the Lodha Committee has already been complied with, what were the impediments and report to us. Then we will see," Justice Misra observed.
The Bench said the scrutiny would help in the "smooth implementation" of the Lodha panel reforms.
The Lodha Committee secretary and advocate Gopal Sankaranarayanan was asked to give the BCCI CEO a check-list of 16 timelines the panel had prepared for the BCCI and State associations to implement the reforms within the cricket body. The CEO would consider the timelines to prepare his compliance report.
At one point BCCI counsel and senior advocate Arvind Dattar said the Committee should work pro bono (for free without remuneration) in the tradition of the former office-bearers of the cash-rich cricket body.
"Why do you want them to work pro bono?" Justice Misra, on the Bench with Justices A.M. Khanwilkar and D.Y. Chandrachud, asked.
"Why not? All office-bearers work for the love of cricket," senior advocate Kapil Sibal, representing some member State associations, retorted.
"Mr. Sibal, we want a professional set of administrators," Justice Chandrachud made the Supreme Court's objective clear.
The Bench advised that the BCCI to come up with a "proposition of a respectable amount" for the Supreme Court to consider as payment to the new administrators for services they would render.
At another instance during the hearing, Mr. Sibal pointed out that Mr. Rai was the Chairman of the Banking Board and a "government appointee job".
"Under the Lodha rules, government servants cannot be officebearers is it not?" Mr. Sibal asked.
But, the court cut him short after amicus curiae and senior advocate Gopal Subramanium said that the position occupied by Mr. Rai was not a government job and he had once held a high constitutional office. Mr. Rai was the suggestion of the amicus and senior advocate Anil Divan.
During the hearing, Mr. Sankaranarayanan said "zero percent" of the Lodha reforms have been complied with by the BCCI and its members so far. He objected to the State associations and the current BCCI office-bearers insistence that they should be heard first before the Committee of Administrators are appointed.
The Supreme Court order says that present office-bearers are to "cease and desist" from functioning. That means they have no authority, Mr. Sankaranarayanan said.
"The minute Your Lordships appoint the Committee of Administrators, they will become the BCCI," he submitted.
Attorney-General Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for three BCCI members railways, armed forces and Indian Association of Varsities, submitted that appointment of a Committee of Administrators would "disturb the electoral college of the BCCI and change the fabric of the organisation".
"We have a fundamental right to be heard first," Mr. Sibal submitted.
"My three votes have gone and been given to Nagaland, Mizoram and Tripura, where there is no cricket. On the other hand, I have been propagating cricket for 70 years," Mr. Rohatgi submitted.
"All this has been argued before... All this is old wine in a new bottle," Mr. Subramanium referred to the submissions made.
"Let the report come and we will see," Justice Misra said.
Meanwhile, the Bench appointed Amitabh Choudhary and Anirudh Choudhary — both BCCI nominees — and Mr. Limaye to represent BCCI in the crucial ICC meet due in February first week.
The court further deferred a proposal by Mr. Rohatgi to appoint the Secretary, Sports Ministry, as a member of the Committee of Administrators, if not at least as an 'Observer'.
The court pointed to the fact that a government servant cannot be a BCCI office-bearer.
Furthermore, the sports ministry has named Abhinav Bindra and P. Gopichand in a eight-member task force for the next three Olympics. Read more >here