<
>

Supreme Court removes Thakur, Shirke from top BCCI posts

play
'It is a victory for the game of cricket' - Lodha (2:26)

Former Chief Justice of India and chairman of the Lodha Panel talks about the Supreme court's decision to remove Anurag Thakur and Ajay Shirke from the BCCI (2:26)

The BCCI's existing power structure has been dismantled by the Supreme Court of India in a landmark order, which directed the removal of the board president Anurag Thakur and secretary Ajay Shirke from office with immediate effect.

The order was the culmination of a long-standing impasse between the BCCI and the Lodha Committee: the board had resisted implementing the majority of the committee's recommendations despite being told to do so by a Supreme Court order on July 18.

The court also ordered that other office bearers of the BCCI and state associations who did not meet the eligibility criteria set by the Lodha Committee shall "cease to hold office" immediately. According to the committee's recommendations, an office bearer should be a citizen of India, should not be 70 years or older, should not be a government servant or minister, should not hold office in another sports organisation, should not have held office with the BCCI or state association for more than nine years, should not be insolvent or of unsound mind, and should not have a criminal record.

All existing office bearers who fulfilled the eligibility criteria were permitted to continue in their roles, but were asked to file an "unconditional undertaking" in the Supreme Court within four weeks from January 2 that they would implement the Lodha Committee's recommendations.

To fill the gap created by Thakur and Shirke's removal, the court said the most senior vice-president of the BCCI would perform the duties of president in the interim, and the joint secretary - Amitabh Chaudhary - will perform the secretary's role.

The court also said that a committee of administrators would be appointed on January 19 to supervise the functioning of the BCCI through its chief executive officer. The committee will also oversee the functioning of the BCCI and states' office bearers and ensure that the Lodha Committee recommendations approved by the Supreme Court order on July 18 are implemented.

Amicus Curiae Gopal Subramanium and senior advocate Anil Divan* were asked by the court to suggest names of persons having "integrity and experience in managing a similar enterprise" for the committee of administrators. "We request the learned Counsel appearing on behalf of the parties to also place their suggestions before the Court so as to facilitate a considered decision," the court said.

At the previous hearing on December 15, before breaking for the winter holidays, the court had reserved its order in response to the Lodha Committee's status report, which recommended that all ineligible BCCI office bearers be removed and an observer be appointed to oversee the board's operations.

On Monday, the three-judge bench comprising Chief Justice of India TS Thakur, and Justices AM Khanwilkar and DY Chandrachud, approved the Lodha Committee's view of the BCCI's office bearers.

"The Committee has in its status report dated 14 November 2016 drawn the attention of the court to the fact that several office bearers both of BCCI and the State Associations continue to hold posts although they stand disqualified in terms of the above norms which have been accepted by this Court," the order read. "Persons who have a vested interest in continuing in their positions in spite of the norms noted above have ensured that the writ of the court is obstructed and impeded.

"We need to emphasise that the turf of the cricket field is not a personal turf or fiefdom. We must hence order and direct that no person shall hereafter continue to be or be entitled for appointment as office bearer of BCCI or a State Association in breach of the above norms. All existing office bearers of BCCI and of the State Associations who do not fulfill the above norms shall with effect from the date of this Order stand disqualified.

"The course of events indicates that though sufficient opportunities have been granted to BCCI to comply with the judgment and order of this Court, it has failed to do so. 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. This Court having furnished sufficient opportunities to BCCI to comply, it is constrained now to take recourse to coercive steps to ensure that the directions contained in its final judgment and order are not left to be a writ in sand."

Former Chief Justice of India RM Lodha, the chairman of the Lodha Committee, said the court order was "the logical consequence" of the position the BCCI had taken. "Once the recommendations were accepted by the court, it had to be implemented," he said. "There were obstructions, there were impediments ... obviously this had to happen, and it has happened. The Supreme Court itself has ensured that its order of 18 July is now enforced.

"It's a victory for the game of cricket and it will flourish. Administrators come and go, ultimately it is for the game."

The Lodha Committee was formed in January 2015 to determine appropriate punishments for some of the officials involved in the 2013 IPL corruption scandal, and also to propose changes to streamline the BCCI, reform its functioning, prevent sporting fraud and conflict of interest.

In January 2016, the committee released its report, which recommended an exhaustive overhaul of the BCCI's governance and administrative structures. On July 18, the Supreme Court approved the majority of the recommendations and directed the Lodha Committee to supervise the BCCI's implementations of the same. However, despite the Lodha Committee laying out timelines and other directives, the board did not cooperate because its state associations objected to the recommendations.

January 3, 0530 GMT The court had initially named senior counsel Fali Nariman, who excused himself on the basis of having been on a BCCI retainer in 2009