The Supreme Court on Friday squeezed shut the financial jugular of BCCI’s 25 State cricket associations, barring them from using BCCI funds till they accept the Justice Lodha Committee reforms in “letter and spirit”.
A bench led by Chief Justice of India T.S. Thakur ordered that BCCI will not disburse Rs. 16.73 crore each to 13 State cricket associations as per a decision taken in the Special General Meeting (SGM) on September 30.
These 13 associations are yet to receive their share of a pay-off made by a private sport channel to BCCI regards broadcasting rights of Champions Trophy and T-20 tournaments.
In a short order, Chief Justice Thakur directed that the pending Rs. 16.73 crore and any future funds would be released to them only after they passed a resolution to undertake to comply with the Lodha reforms and filed affidavits before both the Lodha panel and the Supreme Court attaching copies of such a resolution.
As far as the remaining 12 State associations are concerned, the Supreme Court barred them from using the Rs. 16.73 crore already disbursed to them by the BCCI on September 30 until they filed a resolution to implement the Lodha Committee reforms, followed by affidavits in the Supreme Court and the Lodha Committee.
In case the dozen associations continue to resist the Lodha reforms, the money disbursed to them would be invested in fixed deposit accounts until they change their minds.
The court ordered BCCI President Anurag Thakur to file a personal affidavit to explain allegations raised by ICC CEO David Richardson that he was urged by BCCI to write a letter saying that the Supreme Court judgment to appoint a CAG nominee on the Board would amount to governmental interference.
Senior advocate and amicus curiae Gopal Subramanium had brought Richardson’s allegations to the court’s notice on Thursday.
The court found that BCCI had denied the allegation, saying Richardson was “confusing himself”.
“Is he (Mr. Richardson) still CEO? Does he know that he is being maligned... the accusation is that David Richardson made a false statement that BCCI asked him to issue a letter,” Chief Justice Thakur had asked during the hearing on Thursday.
BCCI counsel said it was not “running away” and would file the affidavits in court.
“We just have certain technical impediments,” the counsel submitted.
“Don’t worry we intend to remove all your impediments. Please don’t precipitate matters. It is not a pleasant task for us to pass such orders. Go in the right direction,” Chief Justice Thakur replied.
The apex court had warned that there would be no domestic cricket matches if BCCI and its members do not fall in line with Lodha reforms. On Thursday, it had threatened to pass an order within 24 hours to stop all BCCI payments to State cricket associations for hosting domestic matches, including Ranji Trophy.
The court had wanted BCCI to give an undertaking by October 7 to “unconditionally” comply with the reforms of the Justice Lodha Committee upheld by the Supreme Court.
BCCI, represented by senior advocate Kapil Sibal, had responded “it was not possible” for the Board to persuade all the member State associations to fall in line within the next few hours. It had submitted it could hardly coax compliance from the States as they had a mind of their own.
“They (State associations) cannot say ‘give us money, but we will not reform’. Tell them that if they want money from you (BCCI), first reform,” Chief Justice Thakur had warned on Thursday.
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