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Amol Karhadkar and Nagraj Gollapudi
March 25, 2014
'Court has come down with a sledgehammer'
Sometime in the next 24 hours, N Srinivasan is likely to resign as the BCCI president. That is the feeling among BCCI officials, who say his decision will be influenced by the possible alternative: the Supreme Court appointing an administrator of its own choice to run the board.
If and when Srinivasan does step down, the favourite to replace him is Shivlal Yadav, the former India offspinner and the BCCI's South Zone vice-president.
The precedent that the officials point to is 2004, when the Madras High Court appointed an interim administrator - Supreme Court Judge S Mohan - during the bitter battle for the president's post between Sharad Pawar and Jagmohan Dalmiya. A day after his appointment - a Saturday - Mohan was restrained from entering the BCCI office in Mumbai, and on Monday the Dalmiya group obtained a stay on his appointment from the Supreme Court. It was followed by a re-election, which delayed Pawar's entry into BCCI fold by another year.
"We would like to avoid a situation like in 2004, so it is possible that the president might act accordingly in the best interest of Indian cricket," a BCCI official told ESPNcricinfo. He said that any stubborn stand put up by Srinivasan could only backfire and hurt the BCCI, which could lose its autonomy if the court were to appoint an independent person as an interim president. Another senior board official said Srinivasan was too "intelligent" to take on the court. "Will he take the risk … especially after what happened in the case of the Sahara owner Subrata Roy earlier this month? [The Supreme Court ordered Roy to be arrested after he failed to attend court hearings, and Roy is still in custody pending bail.] I don't think so," the board official said. "Mr Srinivasan is too intelligent to defy the court's order."
It was a tumultuous Tuesday for Srinivasan as the two judges, Justices AK Patnaik and Ibrahim Kalifulla, delivered blunt observations while hearing arguments in a special leave petition probing corruption in the 2013 IPL. The SLP was filed by Aditya Verma, secretary of Cricket Association of Bihar, a body the BCCI said it does not recognise. Verma had originally challenged the fact that Srinivasan continued to head the BCCI when the franchise he is owner of, Chennai Super Kings, had been involved in allegations of corruption during the 2013 IPL.
Though Srinivasan did not issue a public reaction, the fact that the BCCI was a rattled house became clear as soon the contents of the court hearing rolled out. Three of the five board vice-presidents- Ravi Savant (West), Yadav (South) and Chitrak Mitra (East) - voiced concern, admitting that Srinivasan's exit was imminent. "At this point, it's a Supreme Court observation. If the Court passes an order to that effect, then he will have to abide by that," Savant told ESPNcricinfo. "The Board won't be able to do anything about it. As of now, it's entirely up to him to decide whether to take cognisance of the observation or wait for the order."
According to Mitra it was a matter of time before Srinivasan had to resign. "The court is yet to pass the order. But it is now up to him (Srinivasan)," he said. "The court has asked him to step down. Otherwise it will pass an order. It is not good for the BCCI."
A former BCCI president said it would be prudent on the part of Srinivasan to make things simpler by not dragging the issue any further. "It has to be his personal decision," he said.
The court's observations seemed to have caught the BCCI off guard. While the treasurer Anirudh Chaudhary was overseas, secretary Sanjay Patel had to cancel his trip for an Asian Cricket Council meeting and dash to Chennai to meet Srinivasan and chalk out a plan for near future.
However, even by late evening on Tuesday, not many in the BCCI were aware of what is, or, should be, the next course of action. According to the Board's constitution, if Srinivasan does quit then an eligible candidate from the South Zone will need to replace him - making Yadav the frontrunner, with Andhra Cricket Association president D Subba Rao also in the frame. Some reports suggested Srinivasan had already sounded out Yadav to be prepared to take over as the interim president. Yadav had chaired a meeting of the BCCI working committee last February, when Srinivasan couldn't attend because of personal reasons.
"I am ready to accept any responsibility," Yadav said on Tuesday. "Once the apex court passes an order, nobody can challenge it. Still, I would say let us wait for two days [until the next hearing] and then we will have more clarity and we all can react to it in a better way."
According to the clause 15 (v) of BCCI's rules and regulations, "In case of vacancy occurring in the office of President by reason of death or by him being adjudged insolvent or by him being convicted in a criminal case by a competent Court or by resignation or otherwise, The Hon Secretary shall within fifteen days convene a Special General Body Meeting to elect the President who shall be nominated by at least one Full Member from the zone which proposed the name of the President whose term was cut short prematurely. Such person who is so elected shall hold office till the next elections."
Amol Karhadkar is a correspondent at ESPNcricinfo. Nagraj Gollapudi is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfoFeeds: Amol Karhadkar
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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