In a bid to get a reprieve from the Supreme Court, an embattled Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) on Monday sought time to implement Lodha Committee recommendations but stopped short of giving an assurance that it would comply fully with the order. The three-judge bench led by Chief Justice T.S. Thakur mulled over the possibility of clipping the board's financial powers rather than replacing all office bearers before reserving its order after the hearings concluded in the top court.
Kapil Sibal, the BCCI's lawyer, told the court: “Ideally, we would like to get some more time. We don't want to defy you (the Supreme Court). If there are some problems, we will place before you.” The board however attacked the Lodha Panel with Sibal alleging that “Lodha panel wants to run cricket when the issue of important upcoming financial agreements to be vetted by the panel was brought up by Amicus Curiae Gopal Subramanium.”
This came after the BCCI argued hard against the possibility of an ad-hoc committee to run the affairs as per Lodha Panel's recommendation in its status report to the court. The court, however, was very clear that the BCCI's compliance till now has not been satisfactory. “At this stage there seems to be genuine defiance and obstructionism,” CJI Thakur remarked.
Asked to outline genuine concerns of the board vis a vis the recommendations of the Lodha Panel, the BCCI mentioned the one state one vote, tenure cap applicable with retrospective effect and scrapping of full rights of some of its founding members. The court, however, brushed aside these concerns with Thakur saying categorically that “one state one vote rule and giving representation to North East states stay.”
Meanwhile BCCI president Anurag Thakur's affidavit was met with a very detailed scrutiny by the bench which did not appear to be fully convinced with Thakur's explanation and sought a lot of clarifications from Sibal. The SC had asked Thakur to file an affidavit on whether he had sought a letter from ICC chairman Shashank Manohar on 'government interference' due to appointment of a CAG nominee on the BCCI's management board.
Thakur denied having asked the chairman of the ICC to give a letter. He said he had only asked the ICC chairman, who is also his predecessor in the BCCI, to clarify “his stand” against appointing a CAG nominee to the cricket board’s top council during a two day ICC board meeting in Dubai in August.
The affidavit stated, “At the outset, it is denied that any such request was put forth by me to the CEO of the ICC." Manohar explained to him that the stand taken by him was when the matter was pending before the court.
Sibal tried to say that there was some “misunderstanding between ICC CEO David Richardson and the BCCI over the issue. When CJI Thakur asked whether they were accusing Richardson of making a false statement, Sibal said, “We asked for a letter but not to the effect that it amounts to interference.”
Subramanium tore into Thakur's response which as per him, “calls for concern.” Giving his view to the court, Subramanium stated that the attempt was made to seek a letter after the SC pronounced its judgment. “Should this gentleman at the helm of affairs be entrusted with the responsibility to implement the judgment?” Subramanium also remarked that, “This kind of disobedience is also contemptuous -both civil and criminal in nature.”