Proceedings at the Supreme Court's hearings into the BCCI's new constitution took a bizarre sidestep on Wednesday after the board treasurer Anirudh Chaudhry was asked by the court to respond to a complaint that he issued "death" and "job" threats to a board official on three occasions.
The complaint was made in writing - according to the amicus curiae Gopal Subramanium - by the BCCI's chief financial officer (CFO) Santosh Rangnekar who said that the alleged threats were made on January 21 and twice on October 6, 2017. The email seen by ESPNcricinfo suggests that Chaudhry allegedly singled out Rangnekar and sought to intimidate him by questioning every act of his as the CFO.
Subramanium read out the allegations from Rangnekar's complaint and said, "No treasurer - whatever his ancestry [Chaudhry's father is a former BCCI president and grandfather a former union defence minister and Haryana chief minister] - can threaten the CFO."
The letter, Subramanium said, was sent to him by the solicitor of the court-appointed Committee of Administrators (CoA). "No office bearer has any authority to administer threats to the CFO," Subramanium added. "To say that he will be liquidated."
One of the threats, according to Subramanium, was: "If you were in Haryana, you'd be evaporated by now." The second, on October 6, took place at the ITC Maurya hotel in Delhi: "I will finish you. One more mistake, and you are over." A third alleged threat was that when Rangnekar asked Chaudhry's assistant to remind him of the name of the cough medicine he had earlier suggested, Chaudhry advised Rangnekar to take potassium cyanide instead.
Chaudhry, who was also present at the hearing, told reporters that no such thing happened. "I am too shocked to react to these blatant lies. This is the first time, sitting in the court, that I have heard about this. As directed by the court, I will file my reply."
Asked to expand on what might have been the context of the alleged conversations, Chaudhry expressed ignorance. He was yet to read the written complaint that was presented in the court. However, he did go on to suggest that he had been singled out because he has not always been in agreement with the way things have functioned in the BCCI since the court asked the CoA to take over and oversee the implementation of the reforms suggested by the Lodha Committee.
"I have been expressing my views on issues, including some financial matters, which probably have not been palatable to them and has resulted in this."
Chaudhry's counsel said he was also not made aware of this complaint before the hearing. They have been given two weeks to respond.
The actual matter at hand - the new BCCI constitution - was put off until the second week of January where the matter of the threats will also be taken up. The court was informed that the CoA has prepared a chart with the BCCI's objections to the draft constitution and suggestions. Subramanium also requested the court to continue barring from the board's Special General Meeting (SGM) those board officials who were disqualified and had attended the earlier SGM. "When your lordship has passed the order for one SGM, it has to apply to all SGMs." An order regarding that is awaited.
During the last hearing, on October 30, the court had said it was not going to hear any further arguments. Then, the matter for November 29 was listed under "final disposal at admission stage", which raised hopes that this long-running case might finally reach a conclusion.
Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo