Be transparent, accountable like a public body, SC tells BCCI

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New Delhi, April 11 (IANS) The Supreme Court said on Monday that the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) was not a private entity and as a trustee of the popular game, it has to function in a transparent manner and be accountable like any other public body.

“You are not a private entity. You are accountable and answerable. You are expected to act in a manner expected of a public body. You are a trustee of a game, all your activities must inspire confidence,” the apex court bench of Chief Justice T.S. Thakur and Justice Fakkir Mohamed Ibrahim Kalifulla said.

“You are behaving that we will not let any change or reforms, unless you all (the constituents of the BCCI) come together and decide to reform,” the bench said, asking, “How can you (BCCI) object to the laudable objective of bringing transparency, objectivity and accountability in the working and functioning” of the apex cricketing body.

The court’s observations came as the Cricket Club of India (CCI) — one of the founding members of the BCCI — assailed the Justice Lodha Committee report recommending ‘one state one vote’.

The CCI is one of the four entities in Maharashtra — besides the Mumbai Cricket Association, Vidarbha Cricket Association and Maharashtra Cricket Association — holding one vote each in the apex cricket board.

The BCCI and its affiliates are objecting to the Lodha Committee report recommendations of ‘one state one vote’, presence of CAG representative on the BCCI board, and a cap of two tenures on office bearers with the age limit at 65 years. The court is hearing objections by the BCCI and state associations to these recommendations.

As senior counsel Shyam Divan appearing for the CCI told the court that “Lodha Committee suggestions are wise, but there are other wisdom also”, the court said, “If for streamlining the working and functioning of the BCCI if some undeserving voting rights are taken away, it would not be violation of any right.”

As Divan sought to invoke Article 19(1) (c) of the Constitution (provides for the fundamental right to form association or union), the bench told him that Article 19(1)(c) was available to a citizen and could not be invoked by an association.

Making it clear that it would not appreciate any obstructionist approach on the part of BCCI or its constituent units, the court said, “Whole purpose of the Lodha Committee recommendation was to make the BCCI accountable, objective and transparent and if structural change is suggested to promote the objective, then why it is being obstructed?”

As the CCI sought to count its contribution to the game of cricket, including Brabourne Stadium and noted players, the court asked it if it represented no territory or the people and was not taking any money from BCCI, then how was it contributing to the game.

“If you are promoting the game of cricket, why are you not being financed by the BCCI? It is very rare for a person to say that I will go on promoting the game, but I will not take money from the BCCI,” the bench said even as Divan told the court, “We feel we have contributed to the game (cricket) and we have a right to be associated.”

The court at this stage asked to substantiate the veracity of their claim from their accounts of the last five years.

“How the one state one vote would adversely affect the game?” the bench asked as Mumbai Cricket Association claimed that it had contributed most in terms of providing infrastructure and have the right to be a full member having a vote.

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