Apex Court Rejects BCCI’s Claim to Act As Association
Cricket board and its member associations must fall in line with Justice Lodha panel suggestions, which are not in any way a restriction of their rights, says Supreme Court
New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday rejected the Board of Control for Cricket in India’s claim to act as an association, saying the board cannot be a monopoly which holds full sway over the game of cricket and at the same time claim the right to be a free private association under Article 19 (1) of the Constitution with no concomitant obligations. The BCCI and its member associations must fall in line with the Justice Lodha committee’s recommendations, a special bench comprising Chief Justice of India TS Thakur and Justice FMI Kalifullah said. Senior advocates Kapil Sibal and Arvind Datar, on behalf of member associations of the BCCI, opposed the idea of one association, one vote proposed by the Lodha panel.
“You are discharging a public duty. In doing so, can you discriminate? You have full sway over cricket in the country. You also seem to have some kind of state patronage, otherwise the state would have regulated you,” Justice Thakur said.
The CJI said this after Datar argued for the Tamil Nadu Cricket Association’s right to conduct its own affairs as a free association.
“No one can play cricket without being on the BCCI’s right hand side. You have a monopoly. You also have a full sway over membership,” Justice Thakur said.
He said, “You are not giving up this right to control cricket. You are insisting that you can select team India… the Ranji teams. In that case, can you say I will only associate with one body and not the other? Can you say I will take in one association and not the other? You have to let everyone in and give them equal opportunities.”
The CJI said that the measures suggested by the Lodha panel were not in any way a restriction of the rights of the BCCI or its member associations, but were only proposals to open up membership to more regions and people.
“Cricket is a game of glamour. Every other youngster is aspiring to become Dhonis and Kohlis. The associations must also fall in line and accept these reforms,” he said. The CJI reminded the member associations that even the International Cricket Council had a one nation, one vote policy. “Sri Lanka is just the half of Delhi. Don’t you think in ICC regardless of population, different countri- es have one vote? … if it can work with the international body can’t it work for BCCI?” he said.
Datar argued that match fixing and other such allegations have nothing to do with the BCCI structure, under which an association could first become an affiliate member, then an associate member and finally a full member.
India has become a world leader in cricket because of the contribu- tions by the various state associations, Datar said. “My rights cannot be extinguished. My rights are protected by Article 19(1) (C). It can be taken away only by law,” he said. The bench, however, rejected Datar’s arguments, saying that the BCCI was discharging public functions and could not discriminate between regions as it was doing by not giving voting rights to the north eastern states and Bihar.