New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday told the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) that it was performing a public duty and has to be “objective, transparent, fair and reasonable” in its functioning with “equal opportunity to all” as there are many youngsters aspiring to be like M.S. Dhoni and Virat Kohli.
“You must bear that you are discharging public functions. You can’t say I don’t like Bihar Cricket Association or others and it is my choice to have Bihar or not. I will not associate Bihar,” said the bench of Chief Justice T.S. Thakur and Justice Fakkir Mohamed Ibrahim Kalifulla.
The bench on Monday appointed Gopal Subramaniam as the amicus curiae to assist the court in the hearing of the matter.
Telling the apex cricketing body that while taking shelter of Article 19(1)( C) (guaranteeing right to form associations or unions), the bench said that it also imposed obligations on it as it was discharging public functions.
“If someone wants to have a career in cricket, there is no way that he can do so without being on the right side of the BCCI,” the bench said adding that, “There are many youngsters aspiring to be Mohinder Singh Dhoni and Virat Kohli as there is a lot of glamour in the game.”
“No one can play cricket except under your control. You have a complete sway over the game. Because of your sway you are preventing the people where there is no cricket like in north-eastern states and even including Bihar from being a part of BCCI,” the court said driving home the point that the BCCI while performing public functions can’t escape obligations.
The court is hearing the BCCI and its affiliated state associations which are resisting some of the recommendations of Justice Lodha Committee advocating a “one state one vote” rule, ceiling on the tenure of the office bearers and presence of Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) nominee on the BCCI board.
“You are using your undisputed position to reject the people who want to play cricket. Your writ runs even on those who are not playing under you. If you have the right to select team India, then you have to balance competing rights and obligations”, the bench told senior counsel Arvind Data appearing for the Tamil Nadu Cricket Association opposing the “one state one vote” recommendation.
Regardless of the population, in International Cricket Council (ICC) there is a “one state one vote” rule, then why it should not apply to the BCCI,” the court questioned.
“Where are the restrictions? It is you (who) are practicing restrictions, giving three and four votes to Gujarat and Maharashtra respectively and denying others. Justice Lodha Committee says remove the restrictions,” Chief Justice Thakur said as senior counsel Datar told the court that the recommendation was a restriction on the BCCI.
Telling the BCCI that it was discharging the public duty, the court said that its functioning has to be “objective, transparent, fair and reasonable” with “equal opportunity to all.”
The bench said, “If ICC can accept one country one vote and work, then why not BCCI. For one fifth of humanity (population of India), BCCI gets the same vote as Sri Lanka.”
Earlier in the course of the hearing, senior counsel Kapil Sibal, appearing for Baroda Cricket Association (BCA), said that the territorial identification of state cricket associations had nothing to with the game and insistence of the same for “one state one vote” was clearly in violation of Article 19(4) of the BCCI constitution.
Sibal told the court that recommendation by Lodha Committee means that those playing cricket since 1930 would be out and those not playing cricket would be in. He said that “reforms by itself is not a constitutional principle”.
The BCA had on April 13 told the court that the “one state one vote” recommendation may not be the best democratic thing, as weightage should be given to those who are engaged in the cricketing activities and not the territorial areas represented by various associations.