BCCI De­fends Its Au­ton­omy, Draws SC Ire

The cricket board says that only the regis­trar of so­ci­eties can take ac­tion against it

The Economic Times - - Companies - Sa­man­waya.Rau­tray@ times­group.com

New Delhi: The In­dian cricket board came in for fresh Supreme Court fir­ing on Fri­day af­ter it dug in its heels over not im­ple­ment­ing the Lodha panel rec­om­men­da­tions for re­form­ing the board in the wake of match-fix­ing and con­flict of in­ter­est charges.

The Board of Con­trol for Cricket in In­dia (BCCI) con­tested that it was a so­ci­ety and couldn’t be made ac­count­able to the court for its in­ter­nal man­age­ment only be­cause it was “cash-rich”. Only the regis­trar of so­ci­eties could take ac­tion against it, or, in the al­ter­na­tive, crim­i­nal ac­tion could be ini­ti­ated against it, se­nior ad­vo­cate for BCCI KK Venu­gopal told a bench com­pris­ing Chief Jus­tice of In­dia TS Thakur and Jus­tice FMI Kal­i­ful­lah.

“The fact that we are get­ting in more money will make no dif­fer­ence to our au­ton­omy. Most of the funds come from cor­po­rate en­ti­ties (for broad­cast­ing rights) not from the small man.”

This prompted the CJI to ri­poste: “You col­lect money from the pub­lic (by way of ticket sales). Can you not be ques­tioned on this?”

Venu­gopal in­sisted that BCCI was only sub­ject to the reg­u­la­tory mech­a­nism gov­ern­ing so­ci­eties in Tamil Nadu where it was reg­is­tered or the pe­nal law.

The CJI ex­pressed his won­der this stance in no un­cer­tain terms. “You are telling us, ‘ac­cuse me of cor­rup­tion, malfea­sance etc., but don’t ask me to re­form’? Is this money not a trust in your hands?” he said.

Jus­tice Thakur said the court had, while deal­ing with this spe­cific PIL, come across charges of match fix­ing and con­flict of in­ter­est. “You seem to have no con­trol over the money that peo­ple give you in crores. All this is vis­i­ble in your ac­tions. We have been de­bat­ing how best to make your pro­cesses pure. We do not in­tend to take away your man­age­ment or your money. But you are say­ing you are happy with this state of af­fairs and are ac­count­able there, not here,” the CJI said.

Venu­gopal, how­ever, in­sisted that the court could not con­tinue with an ex­er­cise that in­ter­feres with the char­ac­ter and com­po­si­tion of the board as it was a reg­is­tered so­ci­ety and en­joyed com­plete au­ton­omy in its in­ter­nal func­tion­ing as per its byelaws.

He also re­sisted Lodha panel sug­ges­tion to have a CAG nom­i­nee on board to en­sure trans­parency in its ac­counts, say­ing it may then fall foul of the ICC rules and it may be stripped of its recog­ni­tion. In the same breath, he re­sisted another sug­ges­tion to keep out bu­reau­crats, politi­cians and min­is­ters from hold­ing top posts in the board.

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