The stand-off between the Supreme Court and the Board of Control for Cricket in India over the full implementation of the directives of the Lodha panel took a serious turn after the apex court came down hard on Anurag Thakur, the BCCI president, during the latest hearing on Thursday (December 15).
The Supreme Court said that Thakur “appears to have prima facie committed perjury” in the matter of writing to the International Cricket Council to intervene and say that the implementation of Lodha reforms would amount to government interference in the board’s running. The court further noted that Thakur could even land in jail if perjury is proved.
Thakur had originally denied that he sought a letter to that effect from Shashank Manohar, the ICC chairman, only claiming that he had asked for clarifications from the sport’s governing body.
In October, the apex court had asked Thakur to file an affidavit on the details of his conversations with Manohar. Reports had said that Thakur had sought Manohar’s opinion on the inclusion of a Comptroller & Auditor General (CAG) member in the newly-formed apex council of the BCCI, and whether that was not tantamount to government interference.
The ICC does not allow government intervention in the functioning of its member boards, with the possibility of a suspension not ruled out. While filing the affidavit, Thakur had denied allegations that he had asked Manohar to intervene and say that the Lodha reforms would amount to government interference in the board’s running.
However, the apex court on Thursday said that Thakur could be charged with perjury and the only way out for him would be to apologise, as he had “obstructed the reform process”. “Thakur lied on oath to Supreme Court, in his affidavit he said that he sought Shashank Manohar’s opinion as BCCI chairman,” said Gopal Subramanian, the amicus curiae.
The apex court also reserved its order on replacing the BCCI top brass with a new administrative panel and an observer for the board. The order, however, is likely to be delivered before TS Thakur, the chief justice of India, retires in January. The apex court has given the BCCI a week’s time to suggest names of the candidates to run the board.
The judgement on the matter has been put off to January 3, a week before Justice Thakur is set to retire. It is believed that the BCCI has objected to the proposed move to appoint GK Pillai, the former home secretary, as observer, citing conflict of interest issues.