Nagraj Gollapudi is a senior assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo
The Supreme Court has put BCCI president Anurag Thakur in what could be a difficult position by asking him to submit a "personal affidavit" to clarify whether he had sought ICC intervention against the implementation of the Lodha Committee's recommendations.
Last month ICC chief executive Dave Richardson had told India Today that Thakur had verbally asked the ICC for a letter asking whether implementing one of the Lodha Committee's recommendations would constitute government interference in the BCCI. The Lodha Committee had said that one of the nine members on the Apex Council should be a nominee from the Comptroller and Auditor General's office, a government organisation. The ICC does not permit any government interference in its member boards.
Richardson had said that ICC chairman Shashank Manohar, Thakur's predecessor at the BCCI, had refused to intervene unless the Indian board put its request in writing.
Amicus Curiae Gopal Subramanium had drawn the Supreme Court's attention to the issue while reading out from the Lodha Committee's status report on Thursday. "Interview aired by media with ICC CEO David Richardson showing that President BCCI had requested ICC to issue a letter stating that the intervention by this Hon'ble Court amounted to Governmental interference," the status report said.
Subramanium told the court that the BCCI had denied that Thakur had asked the ICC for a letter and instead said Richardson was "confused". "It is being incorrectly alleged that the President BCCI made a request to the ICC to issue a letter stating that this Committee amounts to Governmental interference. This suggestion is denied," the BCCI affidavit, submitted in court on October 5 as a response to the status report, had said.
The affidavit said Richardson "falsely" stated events. "It appears that an interview was given by Mr. David Richardson the ICC CEO falsely stating that the BCCI President had requested the ICC to issue a letter stating that the intervention by this Hon 'ble Court amounted to Governmental interference. It is submitted that no such letter or oral request was ever made to the said gentlemen either by the BCCI President or any office bearer of the BCCI. It is apparent that Mr. Richardson has confused himself in relation to the issue."
The Chief Justice of India TS Thakur, leading the three-judge bench, wondered if Richardson was aware of the BCCI's remarks. "Is he [Mr. Richardson] still the CEO? Does he know that he is being maligned ... the accusation is that David Richardson made a false statement that the BCCI asked him to issue a letter," Chief Justice Thakur was quoted as saying by the Hindu on Thursday.
The BCCI's affidavit also said that during his tenure as board president Manohar had also expressed reservations against having a CAG nominee on the Apex Council. According to the BCCI, Manohar had changed his stance since becoming ICC chairman.
"This issue is required to be considered in the light of the fact that Mr. Shashank Manohar Senior Advocate had clearly opined as the BCCI President that appointment of the CAG in the BCCI shall result in suspension of the BCCI as it would constitute governmental interference. In fact the same had been submitted on affidavit before this Hon 'ble Court.
"However, as Chairman of the ICC, Mr. Manohar had taken a contrary stand and clarification was sought by Mr. Anurag Thakur during an informal discussion on what the exact status would be if the CAG was inducted by the BCCI as part its management and whether it would amount to governmental interference as had been advised and affirmed by Mr. Manohar during his stint as BCCI President," the board's affidavit said.
Chief Justice Thakur then asked Subramanium who had sworn to the BCCI affidavit. When he was told it was Ratnakar Shetty, the board's administrative and game development manager, the court was curious as to how Shetty had been privy to an alleged conversation that took place between Thakur and the ICC.
The court then asked Shetty to file a separate undertaking stating how he was allowed to sign the affidavit as a response to the Lodha Committee's status report. It asked Shetty to, "place on record a copy of the authorisation/resolution passed by the BCCI on the basis of which he has filed the affidavit supporting the response of the BCCI to the status report."
BCCI president Anurag Thakur is set to leave for Cape Town to attend ICC board meetings between October 10 and 14, where he will meet Richardson and Manohar, the ICC parties mentioned in the Lodha Committee's status report and BCCI affidavit.