Disqualified BCCI administrators N Srinivasan and Niranjan Shah were on Monday restrained from attending the cricket board’s special general body meeting on July 26 by the Supreme Court which directed that only office bearers of state cricket associations can take part in it.
The apex court’s order assumes importance as for the last few months, both Srinivasan and Shah were participating in the Board’s meeting as the nominees of the Tamil Nadu Cricket Association and Saurashtra Cricket Association despite being disqualified.
A three-judge bench headed by Justice Dipak Misra also indicated that it was willing to deliberate upon afresh the issues like membership of associations, number of selectors and number of votes.
The bench, also comprising justices AM Khanwilkar and DY Chandrachud, asked BCCI and state associations concerned to deliberate on implementation of Justice RM Lodha committee recommendations, which were accepted by the apex court, “as far as practicable” in the July 26 SGM.
“The SGM shall be held at the time and date fixed. The meeting shall be attended only by the office bearers of the associations, not by nominees or representatives.
“All concerned shall implement the recommendations of the Justice Lodha Committee report as far as practicable, barring the issues which have been raised pertaining to membership, number of members of the selection committee, concept of associate membership, etc,” the bench said.
“The purpose is to implement the report as far as practicable and, thereafter, it shall be debated as to how the scheme of things can be considered so that the cricket, the ‘gentleman’s game’, remains nearly perfect. Be it noted, the issue with regard to disqualification or qualification of the representative is kept open,” the apex court said.
The bench has fixed the matter for hearing on August 18 when it will consider two issues – implementation of Lodha committee report as far as practicable by the BCCI and state associations and the two names which are to be chosen to fill up the vacancies that has arisen in the apex-court appointed Committee of Administrators (CoA) headed by former CAG Vinod Rai.
During the hearing, the bench observed that once Lodha panel recommendations have been accepted by the top court, it was “obligatory” for all the associations to implement it.
“You hold the meeting. Act on the Lodha committee’s recommendations as to which will be implemented and which will not be implemented. You send only your office bearers. Do not send N Srinivasan and Niranjan Shah. We do not want to make it adverserial,” it said, adding, “we do not want the meeting to be stalled”.
Both Srinivasan and Shah were disqualified from becoming the office bearers of BCCI or state cricket bodies as they fell under the category of debarment for either having conflict of interest or attaining the age of 70 years or being an office bearers of state cricket associations and BCCI for cumulative terms of nine years as per recommendations of Lodha panel and accepted by the apex court.
During the proceedings, senior counsel Gopal Subramanium, who is assisting the court as an amicus curiae in the matter, referred to the fourth status report filed by the CoA and said they have sought a direction to restrain disqualified persons from attending the BCCI’s SGM.
The COA has complained that the two veteran administrators, who were disqualified, were present as nominees of TNCA and Saurashtra Cricket Association respectively, at the June 26 SGM of the BCCI.
According to Subramanium, both Srinivasan and Shah have said that the Lodha panel recommendations as well as the apex court judgements deals with the aspect of office bearers and there was no prohibition on them to attend SGM as nominees.
“Technically, they are correct that the issue of nominee was not there in the recommendations or the judgements. But attending meeting as nominees would amount to circumventing the judgement passed by this court,” he said, adding, “you have to respect the sanctity of the Supreme Court’s order”.
Referring to Srinivasan’s affidavit, Subramanium said he had refuted CoA’s report and had said there was no reason for the CoA to believe that he was attempting to control the BCCI or was wielding power on any member of the cricket body as he had only given his aid and advise due to his experience as a cricket administrator.
However, when the bench categorically asked him whether a person, who has been disqualified, can attend the meeting, Subramanium said “no”.
“He (Srinivasan) ought not to have participated in this meeting. His participation is unlawful and illegal,” he said.
Senior advocate Parag Tripathi, appearing for the CoA, told the bench that if disqualified persons would attend meetings as “nominees”, then it would affect the scheme of the apex court verdicts as well as Lodha panel recommendations.
“One cannot say that I will retire as an office bearer by virtue of being disqualified but I will put the hat of a nominee and continue to be an administrator,” he said.
Senior advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for the TNCA, said that state associations have the right to nominate a person to attend the meeting and Lodha panel recommendations says that a disqualified person cannot be an office bearer which includes posts of president, vice-president, secretary and treasurer.
“Let’s be fair. They cannot target somebody like this. State associations are entitled to appoint anybody as a nominee,” he said.
“No inquiry was there against N Srinivasan under the order of this court. There is no probe, any allegations of cover up against him. The only issue is of disqualification for being over 70-year-old and the nine year tenure in the state association. He has not served as an office bearer of BCCI for nine years. How can they tell state associations not to nominate him? Under what law they say so?,” he asked.
Sibal said that Srinivasan had attended four meetings in the months of May and June but no body objected to it but once he resisted on implementation of Lodha panel recommendations, they are “targetting” him.
Meanwhile, the counsel appearing for BCCI secretary Amitabh Choudhary said there were certain issues in the Lodha panel recommendations which cannot be implemented.