SC directs BCCI to incur expenses for England series

The court had said that contracts above a certain threshold limit should be okayed by the Lodha Committee till the BCCI and its members file undertakings to comply with the reforms.

Also ordering the BCCI to bear the entire expense of Rs. 58.66 lakh for the maiden Rajkot match in the series scheduled for October 9, a Bench led by Chief Justice of India T. S. Thakur said the payments should be made directly to the parties BCCI has contracted with for the series.   -  V. Sudershan

The Supreme Court on Tuesday directed the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) to incur the expenses for all the matches to be played in the India-England series till December 3.

Also ordering the BCCI to bear the entire expense of Rs. 58.66 lakh for the maiden Rajkot match in the series scheduled for October 9, a Bench led by Chief Justice of India T. S. Thakur said the payments should be made directly to the parties BCCI has contracted with for the series.

In short, the Bench made it clear that the BCCI should not pay a farthing to member cricket associations of States where the series is going to be held, including the Rajkot/Saurashtra Cricket Association, all whom have not complied with the court's October 21 order to file undertakings to implement the Lodha panel recommendations in letter and spirit.

The accounts of the expenses so incurred by the BCCI would be handed over to the Lodha Committee, which will audit it. The Committee has been given permission to appoint an auditor immediately.

Perusing the latest report filed by the Lodha Committee, the Bench allowed the Committee to appoint administrative and clerical staff and also experts in various fields to help it to vet a large number of contracts regarding domestic, IPL and international cricket seasons in 2017.

The court had said that contracts above a certain threshold limit should be okayed by the Lodha Committee till the BCCI and its members file undertakings to comply with the reforms.

The BCCI had moved the Supreme Court on Tuesday saying there are no funds for the India-England test series scheduled to start on October 9 in Rajkot.

The hearing was after the BCCI moved the SC seeking an order to Justice Lodha panel to clear the funds required for the Rajkot match with immediate effect.

Justice Lodha panel secretary, advocate Gopal Sankaranarayanan, said neither BCCI nor its member-State associations have so far given any compliance reports or undertakings that they will comply with the Lodha recommendations as per the Supreme Court verdict on October 21.

The court has frozen disbursal of funds from BCCI to State member associations till the latter comply with the Lodha panel recommendations.

The new move on the eve of the series came despite the Supreme Court concluding in its October 21 judgment that BCCI's top administrators, including its president and BJP MP Anurag Thakur, were an impediment to Justice R.M. Lodha Committee's efforts to reform Indian cricket.

A three-judge Bench of Chief Justice of India T.S. Thakur and Justices D. Y. Chandrachud and A. M. Khanwilkar had said there was “substance” in Justice Lodha Committee's suggestion that the BCCI bosses' defiance and intransigence to its recommendations should be punished with their removal.

However the apex court had given BCCI an “additional opportunity” to prove its bona fide and engineer an all-out effort to induce its member-State associations to adopt the Justice Lodha Committee reforms for fairness and transparency in cricket administration.

The BCCI has to accomplish this task by December 3. Its president, Anurag Thakur, and secretary, Ajay Shirke, have to file a compliance report in the Supreme Court. The duo has to also appear before the Lodha Committee to explain the manner of compliance. The Supreme Court has fixed the next date of hearing for December 5.

It had ordered that all disbursements of BCCI funds to member State associations should “forthwith cease and desist” till the latter sees reason and resolves to fully comply with the Lodha reforms in letter and spirit.

“Any transfer of funds shall take place to the State associations only after compliance is effected,” the Supreme Court had ordered.

Further, the court had directed the Lodha Committee to appoint an independent auditor to scrutinise and audit the income received and expenditure incurred by the BCCI. The auditor shall oversee the Board's tendering process. The Committee shall also fix a threshold value for award of contracts by the BCCI. Any contracts valued above the threshold limit shall be entered into only after the Lodha Committee's approval, the court directed.