New Delhi: At last, BCCI and its president paid the price of defying Supreme Court order by not adopting recommendations of the Justice (Retired) Rajendra Mal Lodha Committee reforms. In an unprecedented decision, the Supreme Court on Monday removed BCCI president Anurag Thakur and secretary Ajay Shirke from their posts for stalling the implementation of Justice Lodha panel recommendation for sweeping reforms in the functioning of the cricket body. The court also initiated contempt and perjury proceedings against Thakur.
A bench headed by Chief Justice TS Thakur, who will retire on Tuesday, said that working of BCCI would be looked after by a committee of administrators and requested senior advocate Fali S Nariman and senior advocate Gopal Subramanian, who was assisting in the matter as the amicus curiae, to assist the court in nominating persons of impeccable integrity as members to the committee of administrators.
The decision will end the 7-month reign of Anurag Thakur as Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) president and put the administration in the hands of the board’s senior-most vice-president and joint secretary until a committee of administrators gets appointed to govern the cricket body.
The apex court will announce the names of persons who will constitute this committee on 19 January. In addition, the bench held that all office bearers of BCCI and State Cricket Associations who stood disqualified by its 18 July 2016 decision would cease to hold office if they had crossed 70 years, held any other post in any sport or athletic association apart from cricket, had remained an office bearer of BCCI for a period of 9 years, were ministers or government servants, or were charged by a court of law in a criminal offence.
It may be recalled that the Lodha panel had informed the apex court of the obstructionist attitude of BCCI and open defiance shown by its office bearers to comply with the court orders passed from time to time.
The bench of Chief Justice TS Thakur, Justice AM Khanwilkar and Justice DY Chandrachud, which gave an opportunity to both BCCI and its president Anurag Thakur to respond to these charges, concluded, “The president and secretary and office bearers of BCCI have obstructed the implementation of the final directions of this court on the basis of a specious plea that its State associations are not willing to abide by the directions.” Thakur in his affidavit went to the extent to state he is “incapable” and “without authority” to compel state associations to adopt Court-ordered reforms. To this, the bench replied, “This is indicative of his (Thakur) having washed his hands off a duty and obligation to ensure compliance.”
The defiance shown by BCCI head became evident further by a meeting held between Thakur and International Cricket Council (ICC) Chairman Shashank Manohar. Thakur admitted he had requested Manohar to write a letter asking whether BCCI would run the risk of losing ICC membership if it appointed a nominee of the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) to the Board, as per court’s directions. Thakur explained that he had only sought a clarification from Manohar since this ground was raised by him while he was the board president. Another affidavit by BCCI Secretary Ajay Shirke totally denied such a request had been made. Manohar addressed a letter to SC explaining how Thakur approached him for such a letter.
“Such a solicitation was but an effort to thwart implementation of orders of the court,” said the bench. His explanation on the letter to ICC chief was prima facie held to be “false to his knowledge”.
After the SC order, Anurag Thakur said, “For me it was not a personal battle, it was a battle for the autonomy of the sports body. I respect Supreme Court as any citizen should. If Supreme Court judges feel that BCCI could do better under retired judges, I wish them all the best. I am sure Indian cricket will do well under their guidance.”