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The Supreme Court of India will now hear the BCCI's petition seeking amendments to its constitution on July 28, after a hearing on Thursday. The amendments sought could allow Sourav Ganguly and Jay Shah, the BCCI president and secretary respectively, and other office bearers to stay in power until 2025 through a relaxing of the mandatory cooling-off period.
The three-judge bench, led by the Chief Justice of India NV Ramana, also appointed senior lawyer Maninder Singh the new amicus curiae in the case.
Singh takes the amicus position vacated last year by PS Narasimha, who in 2021 was elevated to the position of Supreme Court judge. Justice Narasimha was appointed amicus in 2019 by the court to help the Committee of Administrators (CoA) finalise the BCCI's new constitution and facilitate board elections, which eventually took place on October 23, 2019. That ended a 30-month vigil by the court-appointed CoA, which had drafted the BCCI's new constitution using the RM Lodha Committee recommendations that were mandated by the court in a landmark judgement in July 2016.
Then, in August 2018, Justice DY Chandrachud passed a judgement approving the new BCCI constitution. However, immediately upon taking office, the current BCCI administration led by former India captain Ganguly filed a plea in the court seeking amendments to the board constitution which, if approved, would roll back significant reforms put in place by the Lodha Committee.
The BCCI filed a second application in April 2020 where it argued that the mandatory cooling-off period (three years) that an office bearer had to face upon completing two consecutive terms (six years) needed to be reviewed.
Justice Chandrachud had already tweaked the cooling-off period clause (from three years to six) in his 2018 judgement, while retaining the basis of the Lodha Committee recommendation. His judgement allowed an office bearer to serve two consecutive terms (six years) separately at the state association or the board or a combination of both, while retaining the maximum tenure of nine years (broken up by the mandatory cooling-off period after six years).
The BCCI instead wants this specification changed to allow an office bearer to serve six years at one go at one place (either BCCI or state association), instead of the cap also including a combination of roles at the state and BCCI levels.
As things stand, all the five office bearers in the board - including president Ganguly, secretary Shah, Arun Dhumal (treasurer), Jayesh George (joint-secretary) and Rajiv Shukla (vice-president) - have already completed six years in office through a combination of positions at their respective state associations and the BCCI. However, having sought legal advice, the Ganguly administration has continued in position and wants the court to rule on the amendments sought.
The outcome could have significant impact at various levels for the BCCI, including on the board elections scheduled later in the year when Ganguly's administration will complete its first term of three years.