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

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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.

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