By Sujit Bhar
Even as the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) remains headless, and even as the Supreme Court has been directly dealing with the issues at hand, the case keeps getting murkier by the day.
Muddying the waters further, now the government has jumped into the ‘dangal’, so to say, with Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi requesting the apex court to reconsider its decision to sack the top brass and appointment administrators.
It may be recalled in this matter that ousted president Anurag Thakur is a Member of Parliament, representing the ruling BJP at the Centre. It has also to be remembered that the top position with the BCCI, the richest sporting body of country – it is also the richest cricketing body in the world – is a matter of pride for any government at the Centre.
Thakur, who had openly defied the apex court in not carrying out its orders, was unwilling to give up this prized position. The government is sure that the apex court would stick to its guns of not allowing any political interference into sport. Hence this petition, which it thinks will appeal to the more tender sensibilities of the judges.
The influence of top level brass at the centre cannot be ruled out. The most interested would be finance minister Arun Jaitley, who was a big operator in cricketing circles in the UPA regime. Top positions at the BCCI have not always been held by political head honchos, though Sharad Pawar was a prominent exception. However, of late, the Board has become exceptionally politicised, with decisions often being imposed “from the top”, which is another way of saying that political pressure was applied.
Friday was the day the apex court was to hear from the amicus curiae it had appointed as to who the top people would be in the Board. It got a sealed cover which contained nine names (with reasons) from senior lawyer Gopal Subramaniam. At this the bench, comprising Justices Dipak Misra, AM Khanwilkar and DY Chandrachud, said: “We don’t think that these names should be circulated. You have filed nine names. A committee cannot have nine members. We don’t think all of them can be selected.”
At this Subramaniam said that the court can drop all names but “me and senior advocate Anil Divan have given… all efforts to select these names, but it totally depends on this court. But we do need a committee as soon as possible because next matches are going to come.”
The court has decided that it will look into the names and pass orders by Wednesday on the composition and size of the committee.
There was one clarification issued by the court. It clarified that only if a person has been a member of the BCCI or an office bearer for a period of nine years will he be barred from any further term in office. The earlier order barred members who had been serving a nine-year term or more in either or any state association or both combined.
This opens up space for more nominations to be considered, including some famous ones who would not have made the cut had the earlier order been persisted with.
On January 2, the Supreme Court had sacked BCCI president Anurag Thakur and secretary Ajay Shirke and had appointed Anil Divan and Gopal Subramaniam to help in choosing the right people to head the board and run it.