The signal from the Supreme Court in sacking Anurag Thakur, President of the Board of Control for Cricket in India, as well as its secretary Ajay Shirke is a huge wake up call for those who treat sports bodies as their personal fiefdom. The unprecedented intervention by the Apex court is an unambiguous signal to all sports organisations and those administering it to get their house in order.
Any misdeamenour in deliberately side stepping or ignoring the court’s order can earn its wrath. This is evident by the summary sacking of the two BCCI office bearers of one of the richest sports organisations in the world. Thakur, a BJP MP, now faces legal action for contempt of court as well as prosecution for perjury.
BCCI would not have faced this humiliation had it recognised that the Supreme Court was only seeking to reform the manner in which cricket is administered in this country. The Apex court desired reforming the administration of the BCCI in keeping with the recommendations of the three-member Justice R M Lodha panel.
The order of July 18 last year found most BCCI office bearers ineligible to carry on as the Lodha panel had asked the court to remove them. The latest order of the Supreme Court comes in the wake of the Lodha Committee’s third status report submitted on November 14asking for the disqualification of the office bearers of the BCCI and the state associations.
The Supreme Court is now set to replace the sacked top brass of the BCCI with a panel of administrators. Over the years politicians of all hues and shades eyed the plum post of President of the BCCI. It did not end there. Some of them even tried to amend the rules in a manner so that it purportedly steered them clear of any clash of interest.
The Supreme Court had given BCCI up to six months to reform itself. However, BCCI refused to implement the key reforms on age and tenure restrictions of its officials, who adopted a hostile and adversarial approach towards the highest court in the country.
Despite murmurs of judicial overreach, the BCCI must hold itself entirely responsible for inviting trouble. Corruption in the BCCI has been endemic. Under the guidance of the Supreme Court, BCCI might finally evolve and set parameters as well as standards for sports governance which India’s other federations and associations might be compelled to adopt.
The defiant attitude of the office bearers has brought the BCCI to this pass. In the aftermath of the Indian Premier League betting and spot-fixing scandal in 2013, the Supreme Court observed that the BCCI was discharging a public function and even though it wasn’t dependent on government grants, it was accountable to the public and the country’s law.
The removal of former BCCI president N Srinivasan was the first step in reforming the cricket organisation with unbridled power being in the hands of a few. Problems got compounded for Srinivasan as his son-in-law Gurunath Meiyappan, a Chennai Super Kings team official, was indulging in betting.
The Justice Lodha panel was an extension of the Mukul Mudgal committee that probed the IPL scandal. The BCCI not only refused to accept the age and tenure caps as well as the one state, one vote policy. Maharashtra and Gujarat have multiple votes.In all this, one thing is certain that cricket will not stop and fans will continue paying to watch their idols score centuries. The Supreme Court’s efforts to streamline matters and bring order in the BCCI must be seen as a victory for cricket.”