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CoA asks Supreme Court to remove BCCI's top office bearers

BCCI acting secretary Amitabh Choudhary talks after the special general meeting PTI

In another damning indictment of the BCCI, the Committee of Administrators (CoA) has asked the Supreme Court to remove the three office bearers of the board with immediate effect.

The CoA felt such a blunt measure was necessary only because the three office bearers - CK Khanna (acting BCCI president), Amitabh Choudhary (secretary) and Anirudh Chaudhry (treasurer) - had failed to ensure the implementation of the Lodha Committee's recommendations despite having given a written undertaking in January.

The CoA said the court had already set the precedent in January when it had removed the two senior-most BCCI office bearers - Anurag Thakur (president) and Ajay Shirke (secretary) - after the pair had failed to implement the reforms, thus violating the court's order delivered on July 18 last year. Simultaneously, the court stated that if Khanna, Choudhary and Chaudhry wanted to continue as office bearers, they would need to make written submissions saying they would help the BCCI implement the reforms. The CoA said that it has been more than six months and the three office bearers are "not in a position to make good" on their undertakings and hence should be sacked.

"The current office bearers of the BCCI have demonstrated scant regard for the directions issued by the Committee of Administrators and continue to flout the same with impunity," the CoA noted in its fifth status report, which is likely to be heard by the Supreme Court on August 18. "There is a need to direct that the existing office bearers of the BCCI shall forthwith cease and desist from being associated with the working of BCCI."

The report also said that with fresh BCCI elections scheduled for September, the running of the board should be entrusted "exclusively" with the COA, which would work closely with the board's professional management led by its CEO Rahul Johri. "The governance, management and administration of the BCCI may be entrusted exclusively in the hands of the Committee of Administrators along with the professional management of the BCCI headed by the CEO until elections are held in accordance with the New BCCI Constitution and a new set of office bearers take charge."

The stonewalling by the BCCI and majority of the state associations against implementing the reforms has finally started to test the patience of the CoA. Vinod Rai, the committee's chairman, admitted in an interview last month that his "consensus-building" efforts paid no dividends. Disappointed but not disheartened, the CoA asked the court in the fourth status report to issue an order under Article 142 of the Indian Constitution that would enforce the implementation of reforms.

Without mincing words, the CoA has once again said unless the court did not issue the directives as requested in last two status reports, its judgment would never see the "light of the day". "The Judgment of this Hon'ble Court will remain a writ in sand and the implementation of reforms mandated by this Hon'ble Court will never see the light of the day."

In its latest status report, the CoA presented various examples, which exposed the "willful disobedience" and the "resistance" put forth by majority of the BCCI members, which are the state associations. The CoA was annoyed that the three office bearers had just remained ineffective, instead of imposing themselves.

The latest instance, the COA said, came around the BCCI's last special general meeting, on July 26. Two days before the SGM, the court, responding to the "urgent" intervention sought by the COA, had directed that only qualified office bearers/representatives from state associations could attend the meeting.

In an interim order on July 24, the court had also indicated that it was willing to reopen debate over some of the reforms. "All concerned (BCCI and state associations) shall implement the recommendations of the Justice Lodha Committee Report as far as practicable, barring the issues which have been raised pertaining to membership, number of members of the selection committee, concept of associate membership, etc."

At the SGM, the BCCI agreed unanimously to implement all but five broad reforms: membership status which includes the one-state-one-vote reform, disqualification of office bearers, ministers and government officials based on eligibility criteria such as the age cap, tenure and cooling off period, the strength of the Apex Council - which replaces the existing working committee, the division of powers between the office bearers and the professional management, and strength of the national selection committee.

Barring the recommendations concerning one-state-one vote and the strength of the selection panel, the other three "identified" by the BCCI form the "fundamental core" of the reforms that were approved by the court in its original order last July. "Describing these issues as 'impracticable' or 'difficult' is nothing short of gross abuse/contempt," the CoA said. "It is obvious that the whole idea was to stonewall the fundamental core of the reforms mandate by this Hon'ble Court and make the same a dead letter."

The CoA was disgruntled with the office bearers also because they did not send it the minutes of the July 26 SGM despite being asked to. The CoA also took strong exception to the BCCI's decision, asking Johri and the BCCI administrative staff, including the board's legal team, to leave the SGM, which it said was "pre-planned and orchestrated."

When the CoA checked with the office bearers as to why they did not "reprimand" the BCCI members who asked Johri to leave the SGM, their response was "ingenious", saying he had "left of his own accord." "The conduct of the office bearers is such as to demonstrate that they are unfit to continue and ought to removed."