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CricketSupreme Court refuses to recall its order on cricket reform

NEW DELHI: In a verdict that almost closes BCCI’s window to not implement Supreme Court mandated reforms, the apex court refused to recall its verdict in which a slew of directions were issued to radically alter the administrative structure of the world’s richest cricket body.bcci-logo

The reforms include barring ministers and bureaucrats from membership of the board and setting an age limit of 70 years for office-bearers. The SC had on July 18 passed the order to bring transparency and accountability in cricket administration as suggested by the Justice Lodha committee.

Now the BCCI is left with only one option of filing a curative petition to challenge the verdict. Wrapping up a two-yearlong examination of betting and spot-fixing allegations relating to IPL 2013, and possible reform of how the game is run, the court ordered a comprehensive revamp of the Board of Control for Cricket in India(BCCI) over six months under the supervision of the Lodha committee.

The BCCI has tried to resist the reforms on the grounds that some of the provisions were impractical and the court did not have a right to intervene in the functioning of a private body like BCCI. The board said reforms like one state, one vote would encourage horse-trading and influence-peddling with non-cricket states like those in the north-east just making up the numbers.

The court had also prescribed a maximum of three terms for BCCI members, each of three years, with the caveat that there would be a cooling-off period between two terms.
Aggrieved by the order, BCCI and state cricket association filed review petitions asking the apex court to reexamine the issue. It also urged that its review plea be heard in open court. Review petitions are normally decided by the bench in chamber without giving an opportunity to par ties to argue the case. A bench of Chief Justice T S Thakur and S A Bobde, however, dismissed the review plea on November 10 but the order was uploaded on Tuesday. The court held that there was no infirmity in its verdict and it could not be recalled.

“We have examined the grounds urged in support of the prayer for review. We find no error apparent on the face of the record to warrant recall of our order dated July 18, 2016. The review petitions are, accordingly, dismissed,” it said.

Accepting the Lodha panel’s recommendation, the court had said that any member of BCCI would lose membership upon becoming a minister or acquiring membership of any other sports body, virtually banning membership in multiple sports bodies. In its 143-page judgment, the court had said that BCCI might be a private body but it could not claim a fundamental right under Article 19(1)(c) to govern a sport.

Banning entry of ministers and bureaucrats, the bench had said, “Nothing which is not due to the game and is not legitimate need be done by any minister or civil servant. But we have no manner of doubt that what is legitimately due to the game will not be denied to the game merely because ministers or civil servants do not happen to be office bearers. We know that there may be overwhelming number of ministers and bureaucrats who are passionate about the game and would like to do everything that is legally permissible and reasonably possible.”

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