The Supreme Court has put on hold, for at least a week, the appointment of a committee of administrators which it said would supervise the BCCI until the board amended its constitution as per the Lodha Committee's recommendations.
The court has now sought a fresh list of candidates from the BCCI, as well as from state cricket associations run by the federal government, which stepped into the long-standing case for the first time last week. The new names will have to be submitted in a sealed envelope by January 27. The court has convened the next hearing of the matter on January 30. The case is being heard by a three-judge bench of Dipak Mishra, A M Khanvilkar and D Y Chandrachud.
On January 2, after removing the BCCI president Anurag Thakur and board secretary Ajay Shirke, the court had said a committee of administrators would take charge of the BCCI until fresh elections are held. On January 20, nine names were suggested by amicus curiae Gopal Subramanium and senior counsel Anil Divan in a sealed envelope.
At that hearing, the three-judge bench was curious over why there were a few people over the age of 70 on that list. The Lodha Committee had placed a cap of 70 for administrators as one of its recommendations which the court had approved in its primary judgement on July 18 last year. On Tuesday, the court made it clear it would not consider any 70-year-olds among the names suggested by Subramanium and Divan.
The court also rejected a request from Mukul Rohatgi, the attorney general of India, who asked the order appointing the committee of administrators be delayed by two weeks. Rohatgi told the court that the Indian government was considering formulating a new bill that would provide more autonomy to sports associations.
Rohatgi's original request was for the July 18 order, which had made the implementation of the Lodha Committee recommendations mandatory across the BCCI, to be reviewed but the court said, "Once we pen an order, it is clear as day that it will be implemented."
Justice Mishra was particularly stern on the counsel from the respondents when they sought to dispute and delay the formation and composition of the committee of administrators.
He asked the attorney general why he had not been present through the six months of hearings and arguments over the Lodha recommendations between January and July 2016. "Where were you when SC passed the orders [on appointment of the Lodha committee]?
"We are not trying to destroy the autonomy of sports bodies. We are removing the impure elements from them, so that they gain autonomy."
At one point in the hearings on Tuesday, when Kapil Sibal, counsel for some of the state associations, appealed for the BCCI to make its own recommendations for the COA, Justice Mishra pointed out that on January 2, the BCCI had been asked to make its suggestions but had not responded in any manner. He then had Sibal read out loud to open court a section from the January 2 order which stated: "We request the learned counsel appearing on behalf of the parties to also place their suggestions before the court so as to facilitate a considered decision."
When attorney general Rohatgi asked the court to defer a decision by two weeks, stating that the Centre was "mulling" over bringing in a sports code to make sports bodies more autonomous, Mishra who was dictating his order responded by saying, "you are only mulling over it.[sic]"
With additional reporting from Jonathan Selvaraj