N Srinivasan and Niranjan Shah faced the wrath of the Supreme Court on Friday (July 14), with the highest court in the country pulling up the disqualified veteran administrators for attending recent meetings of the Board of Control for Cricket in India.
Friday’s hearing addressed the issue after the Committee of Administrators (CoA) wrote a scathing review of BCCI’s SGMs (Special General Meeting) on May 7 and June 26, where both Srinivasan and Shah were present as nominees of the Tamil Nadu Cricket Association and Saurashtra Cricket Association, respectively, despite being disqualified as per Justice RM Lodha’s recommendations.
Anurag Thakur, like Srinivasan a former BCCI president, had reason to come away happy after perjury charges were dropped against him once he tendered an unconditional apology to the Supreme Court.
Led by Vinod Rai, the SC-appointed CoA wrote in a status report to the court on July 12 that Srinivasan and Shah were trying to stall the implementation of the Lodha reforms. The report called them “disqualified office bearers with vested interest”.
“How can a person disqualified by virtue of apex court order be nominated as nominee of state cricket associations and attend the meeting of BCCI?” said a bench headed by Justice Dipak Misra.
The bench, also comprising Justices AM Khanwilkar and DY Chandrachud, issued notices to the controversial duo seeking their responses to hear them on July 24, two days before the next BCCI SGM. The bench will also hear the CoA’s fourth status report on the day.
Thakur off the hook
Anurag Thakur was handed a reprieve as the apex body accepted the former BCCI president’s apology and dropped contempt and criminal proceedings against him for perjury.
The court had initiated contempt proceedings against Thakur on January 2 this year after he had filed a false affidavit regarding writing to the International Cricket Council on the issue of BCCI’s autonomy. The court observed that Thakur attempted to “sidestep the Lodha Committee recommendations”.
Thakur’s apology on Thursday read: “I humbly submit that it was never the intention of the deponent to undermine the majesty of this Court and since unintentionally some kind of misinformation and miscommunication has occurred, I unhesitatingly tender my unconditional and unequivocal apology to this Court.”
Srinivasan and Shah were disqualified from remaining as office-bearers of BCCI or state cricket bodies as they fell under the category of debarment for attaining the age of 70 years, as per Lodha’s recommendations which were accepted by the SC on July 18, 2016. They had also completed nine years as office-bearers both at their state associations and the BCCI.
Kapil Sibal, appearing on behalf of Srinivasan and other state associations, accepted the court’s notice and said the veteran cricket administrator has no conflict of interest as of now and can become a nominee of an association by virtue of being its member.
The court also accepted the resignations of Vikram Limaye and Ramachandra Guha, the other CoA members. Guha resigned due to personal reasons, and Limaye quit after being appointed managing director and CEO of the National Stock Exchange.
Gopal Subramanium, senior advocate and amicus curiae in the matter, suggested six names to fill up the posts left vacant in the CoA, but the SC sought suggestions from senior counsels and others appearing for various parties in the matter in ten days in a sealed cover. The matter will be up for consideration on July 24.
The other issue that will be addressed in future will be Railways’s plea to be allowed to vote. Ranjit Kumar, the lawyer for Railways, argued that despite being regular contributors to Indian cricket and one of the founder members of the BCCI, they were denied voting rights as per Lodha’s recommendations.
Regarding this issue, the bench said: “If we look into the history, we cannot deny the contribution made by Railways to cricket. If any wrong has been done, then it can be corrected.”
Despite Subramanium’s reservations, the court has decided to hear the matter.