Indian cricket board chief Anurag Thakur on Monday denied he sought from the ICC any letter to say that the presence of Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) nominee on the cricket board as recommended by the Justice Lodha Committee amounted to government interference in its affairs.
While denying that he had sought any such letter from the International Cricket Council (ICC), Anurag Thakur, however, told the Supreme Court bench of Chief Justice T.S. Thakur, Justice A.M. Khanwilkar and Justice D.Y. Chandrachud that he had sought only a clarification from his predecessor and incumbent ICC Chairman Shashank Manohar on the issue.
While the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) President said he had not solicited any letter from the ICC but only a “clarification” on the impact of the presence of CAG nominee, the Board’s General Manager, Administration and Game development, Ratnakar Shivaram Shetty in his affidavit said that no such request was made to the ICC.
Both Thakur and Shetty made their stand clear in their affidavits in pursuance to the court’s direction of October 7.
The court was hearing on an application by the Justice Lodha Committee seeking the appointment of a committee to administer and oversee the transition to organisational reforms in the BCCI. The Lodha Committee has said that the BCCI was in wilful disobedience of the court’s directions.
Upon the conclusion of hearing, the court reserved its order, which is likely to be pronounced on Tuesday.
Finding conflicting positions by Thakur and Shetty and the media statements by ICC CEO David Richardson that the BCCI had indeed sought such a letter, Chief Justice Thakur said, “If you have told lies in the affidavit, it would amount to perjury and we will go the bottom of your affidavit.”
Taking note of Shetty’s statement that no such letter was sought, Chief Justice Thakur asked, “Are you accusing David Richardson of making a false statement.”
The court also heard that Shashank Manohar had opposed the presence of CAG nominee on the cricket board as it would amount to the government’s interference in BCCI affairs and it may attract disqualification from the ICC.
However, when Thakur sought “clarification” from him, Manohar said he had said that the presence of a CAG nominee on BCCI would amount to government interference when the matter was pending before the top court. But any judgment on it had to be complied with.
Contending that BCCI was in “disobedience” of the court’s order which amounted to being “contemptuous” and was “criminal”, senior counsel Gopal Subramanium sought appointment of a committee of administrators to oversee the transition.
He urged the court to ask the apex cricketing body to make an “unequivocal statement of compliance”.
Seeking more time to comply with the apex court’s order, senior counsel Kapil Sibal, appearing for BCCI, said that the court gave it one year’s time but Justice Lodha Committee reduced it to six months.
Sibal told the bench that the BCCI would file an affidavit pointing out what it has already done, what it proposes to do and what it cannot do.
He said the BCCI has difficulty in the Lodha Committee recommendation of one State one vote, taking away the founding members of the apex cricketing body like Bombay and Baroda and 15 days’ interval between the national cricket calendar and the Indian Premier League (IPL).
He urged the court that the founding members of the BCCI should not be denied their voting rights.