The Supreme Court has clearly indicated at conclusively adjudicating the fate of Sourav Ganguly and Jay Shah as the president and secretary, respectively, of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI). (More Cricket News | 3rd ODI Highlights)
In an order passed by a three-judge Supreme Court bench headed by Justice L Nageswara Rao on Tuesday, the BCCI matter will be listed for final hearing on December 9.
Both Ganguly and Shah have been continuing as BCCI office-bearers despite finishing their respective terms in July and May this year.
As per the new BCCI constitution, approved by a three-judge bench headed by former CJI Dipak Misra in August 2018, Ganguly, Shah and joint-secretary Jayesh George should have been 'cooling off' now after serving six years continuously in a state association or the cricket board.
In complete defiance of the new BCCI constitution, BCCI treasurer Arun Singh Dhumal filed an audacious petition in April this year asking for half a dozen changes in the constitution. Among the amendments sought, the BCCI wanted the three-year cooling off period on the office bearers to be abolished.
The BCCI matter has been barely heard by the two-judge bench of CJI Sharad Bobde and Justice Rao. At the height of the COVID pandemic, the case last came up in July only to be cold storaged again. It was considered to be a low-priority matter, one that suited the BCCI officials.
On November 19, a fresh three-judge bench comprising Justices Rao, Hemant Gupta and Ajay Rastogi wanted to hear the BCCI matter along with other cricket cases on December 1. On Tuesday, this bench indicated towards a definite closure of a cat and mouse affair between the BCCI mandarins and the judiciary.
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For Nageswara Rao, it will be a full circle if he can put a lid on this contentious subject.
A cricketer himself, he was roped in by Justice AK Patnaik and Justice JS Khehar in October 2013 to investigate the irregularities in the Indian Premier League (IPL). Rao, who was Additional Solicitor General then, was part of a committee that was led by retired judge Mukul Mudgal.
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The Mudgal committee's report had led to the formation of the RM Lodha committee. After almost four years of work, the new BCCI constitution, built on several reforms suggested by Lodha, was approved in August 2018. It is this "order" that the BCCI is trying to change.
Justice Patnaik, who had removed N. Srinivasan from being BCCI president for his proximity to Chennai Super Kings, had told Outlook that "Ganguly was not indispensable," and cricket should be "free from the clutches of politicians."
The retired judge who said that the BCCI officials were both enjoying and flouting the rule book, will now see with interest how Justice Rao handles the 'bounce' and 'swing' of the case apparently in the death overs.
A senior legal luminary said that there was no merit in BCCI'S petition. "It was fate accompli once the constitution was approved in 2018. Several CJIs have heard this case and if the BCCI has its way, then it will be death of the Lodha reforms," he said, adding that BCCI was only prolonging a result that was decided long ago.