BCCI files plea in Supreme Court
The BCCI has filed a special leave petition (SLP) in India's Supreme Court against the ruling of the Bombay High Court declaring illegal and unconstitutional the board's appointment of the independent inquiry commission. The petition has claimed, among other issues, that the rules the board was deemed by the high court to have violated in setting up the commission were not mandatory or absolute.
The original petitioners, the Cricket Association of Bihar, had already filed a caveat with the Supreme Court to enable it to be a part of any appeal filed by the BCCI.
In the 13-page petition, the BCCI has sought to contest the High Court order on various grounds including its decision to entertain the PIL given the board's status as a private body; it has sought to challenge the petitioner's right to file a PIL and question the legality of the inquiry panel when it was not even part of the BCCI nor, therefore, subject to the findings of the inquiry commission. It has also sought to challenge whether the High Court could make a declaration when no relief of any kind was sought.
In their 61-page order delivered last Friday, Justices SJ Vazifdar and MS Sonak had held that BCCI had violated its own constitution - specifically Rule 2.2 of the IPL Operational Rules, which mandated that at least one member of the league's Code of Behaviour Committee needed to be on the inquiry panel. Although Sanjay Jagdale, the former BCCI secretary and part of the Code of Behaviour Committee, was on the original three-member commission, the BCCI did not name a replacement once he resigned. "In other words a commission cannot be constituted without at least one member of the IPL Code of Behavior Committee," the order noted.
However the BCCI's contention in its petition is that while the High Court had declared that it was the board's "prerogative" under the IPL Operational Rules 2013 to appoint an inquiry commission and not for the court to pass an order, "it has erred in commenting on and finding that the probe commission as constituted was against the internal rules of the Petitioner."
The BCCI is also contending that the IPL Operational Rules, which the High Court had said it (BCCI) had violated were not "mandatory" or "absolute" and the board had the authority to modify them. "It is submitted that rule 2 (1) of the said rules specifically states that 'all complaints and/or breaches of the Regulations or charges of misconduct under the Regulations and any dispute between a player and franchise in respect of such player contract shall (unless BCCI in its absolute discretion decide otherwise) be decided by BCCI in the manner set out below'," the SLP said. "It is submitted that the manner of setting up commission/panel as set out in the Operational Rules are not mandatory since they can by the express terms of the Rules themselves be altered by the BCCI."
It also stated that the High Court had failed to appreciate that the inquiry commission comprised two "independent" members. "It is submitted that the committee that was appointed comprised of two retired judges of the Madras High Court, who in fact are outsiders and no way can be said to be interested persons. While so, a Commission consisting of outsiders of the Petitioner (BCCI) with no office bearer or member of the Petitioner itself, being a member of such Committee would in fact be laudatory and give rise to greater transparency," the SLP said.
The Bombay High Court's ruling, issued last week, was in response to the CAB's Public Interest Litigation that the two-member panel set up to investigate allegations of corruption in the IPL was constituted illegally. The court had raised questions on the manner in which the panel was constituted, stating that the BCCI had violated its own constitution in the process.
The court's findings came two days after the BCCI's probe panel comprising retired justices of Madras High Court - T Jayaram Chouta and R Balasubramanian had cleared Gurunath Meiyappan, one of the top officials at Chennai Super Kings, the franchise owner India Cements, Rajasthan Royals' co-owner Raj Kundra and Royals' parent company Jaipur IPL Pvt Ltd of "wrongdoing".
Nagraj Gollapudi is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo