'BCCI is an autonomous body, cannot micro-manage its functioning' - Supreme Court
The Supreme Court has given a small verdict on BCCI's functioning, following the latter's plea of seeking amends in the constitution. The SC would soon also pass orders on the tenure of its office bearers.
The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) is an autonomous body and cannot micro-manage its functioning, which is what the Supreme Court feels. On Tuesday, it also questioned the apex cricket body of the country about why it intends to have people above 70 years representing the nation in the International Cricket Council (ICC). The remarks by the apex court came during the hearing on the BCCI's plea that sought to amend its constitution regarding the tenure of its office bearers, including Sourav Ganguly (President) and Jay Shah (Secretary). It wants to be done away with the obligatory cooling-off period between the tenures across BCCI and the state cricket associations.
The top court, which affirmed that the cooling off period would not be discarded, explained that "the purpose of the cooling off period is that there should be no vested interest," besides also stating that it would persist with the hearing on Wednesday to pass the order. As per BCCI's adapted constitution, an office bearer has to undergo a three-year cooling-off period between two successive terms in either the state association, the BCCI or both conjoined.
At the onset, Tushar Mehta (Solicitor General), who appeared for the BCCI, informed a bench of Justices DY Chandrachud and Hima Kohli that cricket is substantially streamlined nationwide. He presented that the apex court communicated that when the bye-laws go into operational readiness, some changes could be made with the leave of the court. He added that BCCI is autonomous, and the cricket body's Assitant General Manager (AGM) has considered all the changes.
While the submission was being made, the bench declared, "BCCI is an autonomous body. We cannot micro-manage its functioning." Mehta conveyed, "As the constitution exists today, there is a cooling off period. If I am an office bearer of the state cricket association for one term and BCCI for another consecutive term, I have to go for a cooling off period".
Mehta added that both bodies are different, with distinct rules, and a couple of straight tenures of the office bearer are too short of developing leadership at the grassroots level. The Solicitor General communicated, "Leadership develops at the grassroots level and remains in the state association. By the time his time comes to be elevated to the BCCI, he has to go for a mandatory three-year cooling-off period. One cannot become a member of the BCCI if he is not an active member of the state association".
The Solicitor General added that one should not be considered for the cooling-off period if a BCCI office-bearer is holding the post in a state association. While submissions were made, Justice Chandrachud warned, "We are engaging in discussion and not passing any judgement. Social media thinks that whatever we say in court, that's judgement, but that is just a dialogue to elicit a response and better understanding of facts."
According to the existing constitution, the bench said that a state association office-bearer could not hold a BCCI post without undergoing a three-year cooling-off period. Mehta articulated that the court's concern is that none should perennially be in-charge in the cricket body. That concern has been taken care of by proffering a cooling-off period after a couple of successive terms in the BCCI so that the "worthy administrators'" experience is not wasted.
Mehta added that the second amendment concerns the limitation of 70 years of age in the governing council as a representative to the ICC, which the BCCI wants to be scrapped. The bench said, "Why should we have people above 70 years? Let young people represent the country in ICC. We are not saying that people over 70 years have not done exemplary work, but it's a sport. We have our Attorney General, who is above 70. Some doctors above 70 are doing exemplary work in their field."
Mehta enunciated, "ICC is a council where it is decided which country gets how much funds. There are serious negotiations among the veterans from the cricket bodies worldwide. My young man will have to deal with these veterans, who have 30-40 years of experience in dealing with cricket."
Mehta counted that there is no age restriction for ICC representation worldwide. The bench said, "Do you mean that Cricket Australian Board or England and Wales Cricket Board do not have any age restrictions for ICC representation? Could you show us the material on record? We don't have any material before us concerning that. You place it".
The bench stated that its hearing would continue on Wednesday, asking Maninder Singh (amicus curiae senior advocate) to collate all the details. The court noted that it would pass the order. Singh suggested that if a person has served three years as a state association office bearer and goes on to serve as an office bearer in BCCI, he should be allowed to serve for a couple of consecutive terms of six years without the mandatory three-year cooling-off period.
In its suggested revision, the BCCI has pursued the dissolution of a cooling-off period for its office bearers that would allow Ganguly and Shah to continue in the office despite having completed six years at respective state cricket associations. Earlier, the Justice RM Lodha-led committee had advised reforms in the BCCI, which the top court has accepted.
(With inputs from PTI)