Supreme Court to pass order on BCCI on Friday

A Bench led by Chief Justice of India T.S. Thakur gave an ultimatum to the BCCI to to give an undertaking by October 7 to "unconditionally" comply with the reforms of the Justice Lodha Committee upheld by the Supreme Court.

Aditya Verma, secretary of Cricket Associan of Bihar, outside the Supreme Court after hearing the apex court's hearing on Lodha panel recomendation to remove BCCI brass.   -  V. Sudershan

Warning that there will be no domestic cricket matches if BCCI and its members do not fall in line with Lodha reforms, the Supreme Court on Thursday threatened to pass an order within 24 hours to stop all BCCI payments to State cricket associations for hosting domestic matches, including the Ranji Trophy.

The apex court indicated that it may also direct the reimbursement of Rs. 400 crore disbursed by BCCI to State cricket associations on September 30 in a Special General Meeting (SGM).

Read: >Lodha Committee will spell "death knell" of Indian cricket, says Thakur

The court was hearing a plea by the Supreme Court-appointed Justice R.M. Lodha committee's plea to replace the current BCCI top brass for impeding the panel's work to usher in transparency and accountability in Indian cricket administration.

Read: >Lodha clarifies after BCCI threatens to call off NZ series

A Bench led by Chief Justice of India T.S. Thakur gave an ultimatum to the BCCI to to give an undertaking by October 7 to “unconditionally” comply with the reforms of the Justice Lodha Committee upheld by the Supreme Court.

“What do you want? Either we pass orders tomorrow or you give us a statement that you will abide unconditionally by the recommendations and directions of the Lodha Committee,” Chief Justice Thakur addressed BCCI.

Read: >BCCI legal cell hasn't met for two months

To this, BCCI, represented by senior advocate Kapil Sibal, responded “it was not possible” for the Board to persuade all the member State associations to fall in line within the next few hours.

BCCI submitted that it had no powers to force compliance from its member State associations as they had a mind of their own.

“If the associations are reluctant to reform, why do you continue to give them money? You are giving crores of money to them even as they refuse to reform?” Chief Justice Thakur asked.

The court learnt that BCCI had in a Special General Meeting held on September 30 disbursed Rs. 400 crore to various State associations despite an embargo issued by the Lodha panel.

Amicus curiae and senior advocate Gopal Subramanium submitted that the Lodha Committee had not even known about this disbursement and by the time it wrote to the bank to freeze payments, the “horses had bolted the stable.”

“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. Otherwise we will stop all payments of money to them from you... and this will include repayment of money disbursed by you. They are reluctant because you support them,” Chief Justice Thakur said.

“We exist because of them,” Mr. Sibal spoke for BCCI. “They exist because of you,” Chief Justice Thakur countered.

“But it is their money we are disbursing to them,” Mr. Sibal replied.

“Not their money, public money. We have already settled in our judgment that BCCI is performing a public function,” Chief Justice Thakur retorted.

The Bench, also comprising Justices A.M. Khanwilkar and D.Y. Chandrachud, pressed BCCI to make its stand clear and not hide behind the faults of its State associations. But the Board proved evasive, saying it was a private registered body and a conglomeration of State Cricket associations.

BCCI protested the Supreme Court's intention to stop payment to State cricket associations, saying domestic season was on and Ranji Trophy matches have already started with Tamil Nadu taking on Mumbai in Rohtak today.

“Then there will be no domestic matches. If matches are to be conducted, they will be held in a transparent manner. Season or no season, we will not allow a penny to be wasted. Objectivity and transparency is more important than seasons,” Chief Justice Thakur said firmly.

Mr. Sibal pitched in saying the Lodha Committee had initially given the BCCI a year's time to complete the implementation of reforms and then had suddenly turned around to shorten the deadline to September 30.

“You should have gone and told the Lodha Committee that. Instead your secretary wants the Lodha Committee to send emails to him personally. Committee came to us out of sheer desperation from your defiant attitude,” Chief Justice Thakur observed.

When Mr. Sibal asked the court for time till October 17 to “try persuade” the State associations, Chief Justice Thakur put his foot down: “We are done wasting our time trying to make you comply with our decisions for reform. We are spending our time on you when there are ordinary people waiting to be released from jail.”