In what may be regarded as a major decision, the Supreme Court has removed Anurag Thakur and Ajay Shirke from their respective positions at the very top of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI). Thakur had been serving as President and Shirke was the BCCI Secretary. The major reason cited in this case – as had been expected by so many leading up to the decision – was the organization’s failure in adhering to the recommendations made by the Lodha Panel for bringing about changes to the governing body’s administration.
The main idea behind the reforms was to make the BCCI an accountable and transparent body. The BCCI was informed about the changes by the Supreme Court in the July 18, 2016 hearing.
As a result of this decision, it is now expected that an observer – appointed by the apex judicial body of the country – will be looking after the administration of the BCCI. The observer is set to be appointed on January 19, 2017, which is when the case is supposed to be heard next. In fact, the entire new set of administrators will be appointed on that day as well.
The decision is quite an important one considering the effect it can have on the future of the game in the country. Incidentally, this was the third status report provided in the case by the Lodha Panel.
Who Can be the Next BCCI President?
It is being said that Saurav Ganguly and Brijesh Patel are in running to become the next President of BCCI. Ganguly is presently the President of Cricket Association of Bengal (CAB) and Patel has previously served in a similar position for the Karnataka State Cricket Association (KSCA).
It needs to be mentioned in this regard that CAB was one of the few associations that were ready to implement the Lodha Panel reforms. Ganguly – an erstwhile captain of the national team – was also the member of the panel, headed by Justice Mukul Mudgal and formed in 2013 in order to investigate the IPL spot fixing and betting case that had happened that year.
Plight of Vice-Presidents
The present Vice-Presidents of the BCCI are now supposed to sign an undertaking, where they will express their willingness to execute the reforms recommended by the Lodha Panel. Following are the five Vice-Presidents of BCCI:
- ML Nehru – North Zone
- Dr G. Gangaraju – South Zone
- Gautam Roy – East Zone
- TC Mathew – West Zone
- CK Khanna – Central Zone
The top judicial body in India has meanwhile dismissed office-bearers in the BCCI as well as the various state associations, who have failed to meet the criteria set by the Lodha Panel.
The Plight of Shirke and Thakur
Both Thakur and Shirke have been charged with contempt of court and perjury by the Supreme Court. They have been slapped with show-cause notices for the same and are expected to reply to the allegations by January 19, 2017. The Supreme Court has asked them to show reasons as to why prosecution shouldn’t be started against them. Anurag Thakur could, in fact, face a jail term if he is found guilty of having committed perjury.
Background of the Judgment
In the previous hearing on December 15, 2016, the Supreme Court bench, which is overseeing the case and is headed by the Chief Justice of India TS Thakur, had stated quite clearly that perjury charges would be brought against Anurag Thakur.
Allegedly, Thakur had asked the International Cricket Council (ICC) if it could mark the Lodha Panel reforms as governmental intervention but had lied about the same when asked in the court. Incidentally, Gopal Subramaniam, the “amicus curiae” in this case – an impartial adviser to a court of law in a particular case – had stated that Anurag Thakur had lied on oath by stating in his affidavit that he had just asked for the opinion of Shashank Manohar, the ICC Chairman, on the issue.
Manohar had, however, stated clearly that Thakur had asked him a question to that effect during an ICC meeting. The question came through an email sent by Anurag Thakur to him. Subramaniam had pointed out as much and said that this could be interpreted as an effort by the ousted BCCI President to block the reforms process. After this, the Supreme Court appointed senior advocates Subramaniam and Fali S Nariman as amicus curiae in the case. They were tasked with suggesting names of ones who they thought would be suitable to administer the BCCI.
Supreme Court has, however, asked the BCCI to suggest a person who can serve in the post of its main administrator and has given them a week’s time to suggest the same. The BCCI had incidentally accepted several recommendations put forward by the Lodha Panel but stopped short of implementing the main reforms – ones that were the main areas of contention between the Supreme Court and the BCCI. Some of those recommendations may be mentioned as below:
- One state, one vote
- Upper age limit of 70 years for administrators
- Administrators to have cooling-off periods of three years.