The meeting to select India’s squads for the ODI and T20I series against England beginning on January 15 has been delayed in Mumbai on Friday because of a lack of clarity over procedure in the wake of the Supreme Court order on January 2 leaving the BCCI without most of its office bearers. The meeting was supposed to begin at 12.30 pm IST.
According to previous procedure the BCCI secretary convenes the selection meeting and it has emerged that Amitabh Choudhury, the board’s joint secretary who was to act as secretary after the incumbent Ajay Shirke was removed from office, had requested that the meeting be delayed until the evening so that he could attend. However, the Lodha Committee clarified that Choudhury was also no longer eligible to continue as joint-secretary – he has been an office bearer with Jharkhand State Cricket Association for more than nine years – and that the selection meeting should proceed as scheduled.
In an email to the BCCI chief executive Rahul Johri at 2.08 pm IST on Friday, the Lodha Committee secretary Gopal Sankaranarayanan wrote: “It is clarified that Mr. Amitabh Chaudhary stands disqualified and is no longer the joint secretary of the BCCI or an office bearer of the BCCI or a State Association by virtue of the orders of the Supreme Court dated 2.1.2017 and 3.1.2017.
“As a result, he has no authority to interfere with the BCCI and its functioning or with the directions of this Committee. Please proceed with the Selection Committee Meeting as scheduled.”
The Lodha Committee’s email was in response to a query from Johri at 1.33pm on Friday, after Choudhury requested that the selection meeting be delayed. “We have received differing legal advice insofar as whether a person who has completed nine years as an office bearer of a State Association would be disqualified from being an office bearer of the BCCI in terms of the order dated 2nd January 2017 read with the order dated 3rd January 2017 and have been advised to seek a clarification from the Hon’ble Supreme Court,” Johri wrote.
“Although Mr. Amitabh Choudhary has completed nine years as an office bearer of a State Association, he has not completed nine years as an office bearer of BCCI. In view of the above, please advise as to whether Mr. Amitabh Choudhury stands disqualified in terms of the order dated 2nd January 2017 read with the order dated 3rd January 2017 and whether we should go ahead with the selection committee meeting as per your earlier emails or act on the instructions of Mr. Amitabh Choudhury.”
On January 2, the Supreme Court had passed an order removing the BCCI president Anurag Thakur and secretary Shirke from office, and also directed that all other office bearers of the BCCI and state associations who did not meet the eligibility criteria laid down by the Lodha Committee Committee should step down.
On January 3, however, the Supreme Court modified one of the sub-clauses in its January 2 order concerning the eligibility of an office-bearer. Originally the order had said: “A person shall be disqualified from being an Office Bearer if he or she has been an Office Bearer of the BCCI for a cumulative period of 9 years.” But on Tuesday, the court modified that to: “Has been an Office Bearer of the BCCI or a State Association for a cumulative period of 9 years.”
According to the Lodha Committee’s interpretation of the modification, if a person had finished nine years as an office-bearer, whether at BCCI or state level or both combined, that person was ineligible to remain as office-bearer at BCCI or state level effective immediately. Choudhury was deemed ineligible according to this condition. It is understood the Lodha Committee consulted legal counsel involved in the case, including the BCCI lawyer, before arriving at its interpretation.