Brijesh Patel

Brijesh Patel has been a powerful administrator who ruled the KSCA with an iron fist since 1998 except for a three-year period between 2010 and 2013. © AFP

Brijesh Patel’s long career as an administrator in the Karnataka State Cricket Association (KSCA) came to an abrupt end on Tuesday(January 3) when he demited office as the secretary of the association with immediate effect.

Patel, the former India batsman, first became the KSCA secretary in 1998, a position he retained until 2010 when he did not contest the elections and Javagal Srinath, the former India paceman, returned as the secretary. Patel made a comeback to the post in December 2013, which means that, in all, he has been the KSCA secretary for more than 15 years.

The Supreme Court had on Monday issued directives under which office-bearers of the Board of Control for Cricket in India and of its affiliated state associations who failed to meet the norms recommended by the Lodha Committee and accepted by the court should “forthwith demit and cease to hold office”.  Clause 25 (i) (f) said an individual was ineligible to be an office-bearer if he “has been an Office Bearer of the BCCI for a cumulative period of 9 years”.

In a clarification issued on Tuesday, the Supreme Court made it clear that the directive applied to office-bearers of state associations as well who have held positions for a cumulative period of nine years. “Gopal Subramaniam (the amicus curiae) draws our attention to an inadvertent error in our order, clause 25(i)(f) whereof shall now stand modified/corrected to read as under: 25(i)(f) Has been an office bearer of BCCI or a state association for a cumulative period of nine years,” a three-judge Supreme Court bench headed by TS Thakur, the outgoing Chief Justice of India, and also comprising Justices AM Khanwilkar and DY Chandrachud, said on Tuesday.

Not long after this clarification, the KSCA said that Patel was stepping down as secretary, as were PR Ashokanand as the president and Dayanand Pai as the treasurer. “We wish to inform you that in light of Supreme Court judgement dated 2ndJanuary and as modified by 3rd January today’s Supreme Court order…./our president Ashokanand & Secretary Brijesh Patel & Treasurer Dayanand Pai have demited their office with immediate effect,” said Vinay Mruthyunjaya, the KSCA spokesperson, in a release.

The other clauses that the court had listed that disqualified individuals from being an office-bearer are:

  • a) Is not a citizen of India
  • b) Has attained the age of 70 years
  • c) Is declared to be insolvent, or of unsound mind
  • d) Is a Minister or government servant
  • e) Holds any office or post in a sports or athletic association or federation apart from cricket
  • g) Has been charged by a Court of Law for having committed any criminal offence

Ashokanand, who played 62 first-class matches for Hyderabad, Madras and Mysore, is 76 years old, and took over as president shortly after the December 2013 elections following the demise of Srikanta Datta Narasimharaja Wadiyar, who had been elected to the post for the second time in three attempts.

Patel has been a strong and powerful administrator who has ruled Karnataka cricket administration with an iron fist since unseating C Nagraj in 1998, except for a three-year period between 2010 and 2013 when Anil Kumble was elected the president and Javagal Srinath the secretary. Patel had ostensibly thrown his lot behind the two India stalwarts in the lead-up to those elections, but during those three years, he and Wadiyar came together after having fought a bitter election in 2007, and were both emphatically voted back to power in December 2013.

Mruthyunjaya said that the lacunae in the KSCA administration would be filled at the earliest. “The managing committee will meet on Thursday at 4 pm to elect an interim president, an interim secretary and an interim treasurer,” he told Wisden India. “After that, we will begin the process of amending the bylaws so that we adhere to all the directives of the Supreme Court, and then we will have elections once that process is complete.”

Patel has been a strong and powerful administrator who has ruled Karnataka cricket administration with an iron fist since unseating C Nagraj in 1998, except for a three-year period between 2010 and 2013 when Anil Kumble was elected the president and Srinath the secretary. Patel had ostensibly thrown his lot behind the two India stalwarts in the lead-up to those elections, but during those three years, he and Wadiyar came together after having fought a bitter election in 2007, and were both emphatically voted back to power in December 2013.

He polarised opinion and had as many detractors as he had followers. He did play his part in the emergence of Karnataka as a strong force in the domestic circuit, both on the field and off it. While he did not hold any position in the BCCI, he was the director of the National Cricket Academy until 2005, having earlier served as the chairman of the senior national selection panel as well.

Whether this means the end of Patel’s administrative career in totality is a point of debate. There is one school of thought which interprets the court order as being silent on whether Patel can aspire for a position in the BCCI. Another school of thought, driven equally by legal luminaries, is adamant that there is no scope for ambiguity, and that all administrators – whether they have held office in the BCCI or in state associations – who had served a cumulative period nine years cannot hold any position in either the BCCI or its state affiliates.

There will be no immediate shake-up to the current five-man selection panel, even though the Lodha Committee had recommended that the selection panels be downsized to three people, and that all of the selectors should have played Test cricket. Two of the five members of the current senior men’s panel – Jatin Paranjape and Gagan Khoda – haven’t turned out in Test cricket. The senior national selectors are to meet on January 6 to pick the Indian team for the ODI series against England, scheduled to start in Pune on January 15. In the absence of a board secretary following the sacking of Ajay Shirke, the selection panel is likely to be convened by Rahul Johri, the CEO of the BCCI.

The confusion has been confounded by question eight in the FAQ section of the Lodha Committee recommendations, which reads, “So a person who has held an office bearer post in a State for 9 years or more is still eligible to be a Councillor/office bearer of BCCI?”

The answer is in the affirmative, written out in capital letters: “YES. The 9 YEAR BAR APPLIES EITHER TO OFFICE UNDER THE BCCI OR SEPARATELY IN STATE ASSOCIATIONS. THE PERIOD AS OFFICE BEARER UNDER THE STATE SHALL NOT BE COUNTED TOWARDS THE PERIOD AS OFFICE BEARER OF THE BCCI AND VICE VERSA. THEREFORE, TECHNICALLY ONE INDIVIDUAL CAN BE AN OFFICE BEARER AT THE STATE ASSOCIATION FOR 9 YEARS AND SEPARATELY AN OFFICE BEARER / COUNCILLOR AT THE BCCI FOR ANOTHER 9 YEARS, SUBJECT OF COURSE TO THE COOLING-OFF PERIOD AFTER EACH TERM.”

On Monday, the Supreme Court had asked Subramaniam, the amicus, and Fali S Nariman, a senior constitutional jurist, to recommend suitable names by January 19 for appointment as members of the committee of administrators to oversee the affairs of the BCCI. Nariman recused himself on Tuesday, pointing out that in 2009, he had been retained by the BCCI and therefore it wouldn’t be fair for him to be on that two-member panel to suggest names of administrators. Consequently, Anil Divan, a senior advocate, will now assist Subramaniam in that process. “We quite appreciate the difficulty expressed by Nariman and accordingly discharge him of the role assigned to him,” said the bench.

Wisden India has learnt that there will be no immediate shake-up to the current five-man selection panel, even though the Lodha Committee had recommended that the selection panels be downsized to three people, and that all of the selectors should have played Test cricket. Two of the five members of the current senior men’s panel – Jatin Paranjape and Gagan Khoda – haven’t turned out in Test cricket. The senior national selectors are to meet on January 6 to pick the Indian team for the One-Day International series against England, scheduled to start in Pune on January 15. In the absence of a board secretary following the sacking of Ajay Shirke, the selection panel is likely to be convened by Rahul Johri, the CEO of the BCCI.