The background: The apex court had mandated the presence of a CAG nominee in the apex council as part of the structural reforms. In his capacity as president, did Anurag Thakur seek a letter from ICC saying that CAG nominee would amount to government interference in BCCI affairs, which was against the ICC mandate, so that he can ask the court to withdraw its order, lest the BCCI be derecognised by the international council?
Did Thakur seek such a letter?
In its order dated January 2 2017, the Court stated that there are two contrasting versions before them — one from general manager of admin and game development Ratnakar Shetty and the second was from Thakur.
The SC order reads thus: “In the response filed by Mr Shetty on behalf of BCCI there was a specific denial that its President had requested ICC to issue a letter stating that the Committee amounted to governmental interference. On the other hand, in the affidavit which the President of BCCI filed in pursuance of the directions of this Court dated 7 October 2016 he accepted having made a request to the Chairman of ICC for issuing a letter ‘clarifying the position which he had taken as BCCI President’ (that the recommendation of the Committee for appointment of a CAG nominee would amount to governmental interference and may lead to a suspension of BCCI from ICC membership).
Mr Shetty had not disclosed that there was any such request for a letter made by the President of BCCI whereas according to the latter he had made such a request. Mr Shetty in fact denied that any request for a letter was made to the ICC President by Mr Anurag Thakur.
What did Thakur state to the court?
“In this context it is respectfully submitted that there was an ICC governance review committee meeting scheduled to be held in Dubai on 6th & 7th August 2016. There were certain issues relating to financial model for which my inputs were required and as such I was invited by ICC for the said meeting. During the meeting with regard to the review of the constitutional provisions of ICC, I pointed out to the Chairman of the ICC, Mr Shashank Manohar that when he was the President of BCCI he had taken a view that the recommendations of the Justice Lodha committee appointing the nominee of the CAG on the Apex Council would amount to governmental interference and might invoke an action of suspension from ICC. I therefore requested him that he being the ICC Chairman can a letter be issued clarifying the position which he had taken as BCCI President. Mr Manohar explained to me at the meeting that when the stand was taken by him, the matter was pending before this Hon’ble Court and had not been decided. However, on 18.07.2016 this Hon’ble Court delivered its judgment in the matter. In the said judgment, this Hon’ble Court has rejected the submission that the appointment of the nominee of CAG on Apex council would amount to Governmental interference and had also held that the ICC would appreciate the appointment as it would bring transparency in the finances of the Board.”
What did Shashank Manohar tell the court-appointed panel?
In pursuance of the Order of this Court, Mr Shashank Manohar (President – ICC) has in an email dated 2 November 2016 addressed to the Committee made the following disclosure : “At the meeting, apart from myself and Mr Anurag Thakur, Mr Giles Clarke, Mr David Peever and Mr Imran Khwaja, who are all Directors of ICC, were present. The ICC CEO, Mr David Richardson and ICC COO Mr Lain Higgins were also present.. During the meeting Mr Thakur pointed out to me that when I was the President of BCCI a submission was advanced before the Supreme Court at my behest that the appointment of a nominee of the CAG on the Apex Council might amount to Governmental interference and would invoke an action of suspension from the ICC. He therefore requested me to issue a letter to that effect in my capacity as ICC Chairman.. I declined to issue such a letter and explained to him that the said submission was advanced before the Hon Supreme Court when the court was hearing the matter. However, on 18-7-2016 the Hon SC delivered its judgment in the matter and rejected the submission that the appointment of a nominee of the CAG would amount to governmental interference. The Hon SC further held that the appointment of the CAG nominee on the Apex Council either made by the BCCI on its own or under the orders of a competent court aimed at bringing financial discipline and transparency cannot be seen as governmental interference calling for suspension of the BCCI by the ICC. The Hon SC further held that the ICC would appreciate the appointment of such a nominee as the same would bring transparency in the finances of the Board.. I therefore explained to Mr Thakur that the issue having been decided by the Hon Supreme Court of India, which is the highest court of the country and whose judgment binds everybody, I cannot give him any such letter.”
What does SC say in its order?
“The conduct of the President of BCCI in seeking a letter from the President of ICC in August 2016, after the final judgment and Order of this Court, is nothing but an attempt on the part of the head of BCCI to evade complying, with the Order of this Court. That he sought a letter is clear even from the affidavit of Mr Thakur dated 15 October 2016 (though he states that he had requested the ICC Chairman to clarify the position which he had taken as BCCI President). Even going by that version, we are constrained to note that there was absolutely no occasion for the President of BCCI to solicit any such clarification from the Chairperson of ICC in the teeth of the judgment that was delivered by this Court.”
The controversial meeting in Dubai. Why is there a variance from the minutes of meeting?
First, this is what the minutes say, according to the apex court order. “Mr Anurag Thakur was in the Chair and called the meeting to order and welcomed the members. He briefed the members about his meeting with the ICC Chairman at Dubai during the ICC governance review committee meeting on 6th & 7th August 2016. Certain financial mode inputs were required during the said meeting which he gave. During the meeting with regard to the review of the constitutional provisions of ICC it was informed by Mr Thakur that he asked Chairman ICC Mr Shashank Manohar that when he was the President of BCCI he had taken a view that the recommendations of Justice Lodha committee appointing the nominee of the CAG on the Apex Council would amount to governmental interference and might invoke an action of suspension from ICC. It was therefore requested from him that he being the ICC Chairman could a letter be issued clarifying the position which he had taken as BCCI President. Mr Manohar thereafter explained that when the stand was taken by him the matter was pending before the Supreme Court and was not decided. However on 18th of July 2016 the Hon. Supreme Court of India delivered its judgment and the Court has rejected the submission that the appointment of the nominee of CAG on Apex council will amount to Governmental interference and had also held that the ICC would appreciate the appointment as it would bring transparency in the finances of the Board. The discussion stopped in view of his explanation on this issue.”
How does the court view these minutes — was it fabricated?
“Prima facie it would appear that these minutes had not seen the light of the day when the response by Mr Shetty to the status report of the Committee was filed, and have been fabricated subsequently to lend credence to the version of Mr Thakur.
“The statement that Mr Manohar was requested to clarify the position which he had taken as BCCI President is falsified by Mr Manohar’s disclosure that he was asked to give a letter in his capacity as ICC Chairman. The version of Mr Thakur that he had requested Mr Manohar that ‘he being ICC Chairman can a letter be issued clarifying the position’ which he had taken as BCCI President is belied by the disclosure which has been made by Mr Shashank Manohar. Mr Manohar’ s response dated 2 November 2016 clearly indicates that during the course of the meeting at Dubai on 6 August 2016, Mr Thakur requested him to issue a letter in his capacity as ICC Chairperson that the appointment of a nominee of CAG in BCCI might amount to governmental interference, leading to action of suspension from ICC.
“Prima facie, it emerges from the record that Mr Thakur did seek such a letter from the ICC Chairperson as stated by Mr Manohar. The disclosure which Mr Thakur has made in his affidavit dated 15 October 2016 is prima facie false to his knowledge. Prima facie, we also find that the minutes of the meeting of the Working Committee of BCCI which were produced before this Court have been made up to lend support to the version of Mr Thakur.
What does the court conclude on Thakur?
“We accordingly have arrived at the conclusion that Mr Thakur has by his actions and conduct rendered himself unfit for continuance as President of BCCI, for the following reasons:
“Firstly, he has obstructed and impeded the implementation of the directions contained in the judgment and order of this Court dated 18 July 2016. His own version is that he has been ‘rendered totally incapable and without any authority’ to compel the members to comply with the orders of this Court. This is indicative of his having washed his hands off a duty and obligation to ensure compliance. Secondly, we are prima facie of the view that Mr Thakur is liable to be proceeded with for contempt of court for having obstructed and impeded the orders of this Court.
“Thirdly, prima facie we are of the view that Mr Thakur has made statements on affidavit before this Court which are false to his knowledge. A notice to show cause should be issued to Mr Thakur why he should not be proceeded with under Section 195 read with Section 340 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 for having made false statements before this Court.”