The Supreme Court on Thursday said that it was not interfering in the autonomy of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) but only wanted that its activities promoted the development of the game in the country.
Making it clear that it was not against politicians taking part in the affairs of the BCCI, the court wanted to know if the country's apex cricketing body has asked its auditors to conduct the performance audit of the funds flowing from it to the state cricketing associations.
The court, however, reserved its verdict on the BCCI and its state affiliates red flagging some of the recommendations of the Justice Lodha Committee. They are particularly aggrieved by the recommendations advocating a policy of one state one vote, ceiling on the tenure of the office-bearers and presence of a Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) nominee on the BCCI Board.
"We are not reviewing any decision of the BCCI. Say if they are selecting a team whether they should have a fast bowler or a spinner. We are not going to step in there," said the apex court bench comprising Chief Justice T.S. Thakur and Justice Fakkir Mohamed Ibrahim Kalifulla.
In its reply to the apex court's observation, the BCCI contended that it could not be directed about the way it should go about its functioning.
The bench was told that if it was open to the court to go into the BCCI's existence, constitution, membership and qualification of membership, then it should apply to the other 64 national sports bodies in the country as well.
"Politicians could always be there in their individual capacity," the bench said as senior counsel K.K. Venugopal appearing for the BCCI told the court, "whether one is a bureaucrat or a politician, so long he is elected according to rules, there can be no bar."
The senior counsel said that the country's apex cricketing organisation needed the best people with vast experience to manage its affairs.
However, the court had a dig at the BCCI for "now" asking its state affiliates to furnish the proper utilisation certificate of the funds given to them.
Referring to a communication by the BCCI to its state associations, which read that "members are now required" to furnish the details of the utilisation of funds given to them by it, the bench asked, "Why did you not require (this) earlier."
With Venugopal telling the court that in cases of mis-utilisation of its funds, the BCCI stops further funding, the bench asked, "Why should you stop aid to the game, simply because some thieves have misused the funds. Stopping aid is no answer."
"Whether you have asked the auditors to conduct a performance audit of funds flowing from BCCI to the State cricket associations," the bench asked Venugopal in a poser.
Welcoming some steps being taken by the BCCI, senior counsel Gopal Subramanium pointed to startling facts about the membership in Delhi, where he said it was found that in a dwelling unit of 48 Sq. metres 14 and 12 people were living.
The court had appointed Subramanium as amicus curiae to assist the court in the hearing of the matter.
Subramanium cited an instance where a member's driver, driver's daughter and other family members too were shown as the members of state cricket association.
The amicus curiae said that once it has been held that the BCCI was discharging public functions, then it has to go by rule of law and its functioning should be transparent.
Appearing for the Cricket Association of Bihar, senior counsel Nalini Chidambaram said that although the BCCI was telling the court that it was mending its ways, its president Anurag Thakur has said that if the Lodha Committee recommendations were implemented, it would take the BCCI back to where it was 20 years ago.
Chidambaram said that if a person is chargesheeted, he cannot become an office-bearer of the BCCI. If a board official is chargesheeted, then it is a serious matter. Chidambaram was apparently referring to the chargesheet against Thakur in the Dharamshala cricket stadium case.