Supreme Court today struck down the amendment to rule 6.2.4 of BCCI permitting administrators of the cricket body to acquire or hold commercial interest in events like IPL and champions league, terming it as the “true villain” of the situation.
A bench headed by Justice T S Thakur said that conflict of interest was the one area which appeared to have led to the confusion and it gave a “serious misgivings” in the mind of the public regarding the manner in which BCCI is managing its affairs.
“Suffice it to say that amendment to Rule 6.2.4 is the true villain in the situation at hand. It is the amendment which attempts to validate what was on the date of the award of the franchise invalid as Rule 6.2.4 did not as on that date permit an administrator to have any commercial interest in any event organized by BCCI,” the apex court said.
“It is accordingly answered in the affirmative and amendment to rule 6.2.4 permitting administrators of BCCI to acquire or hold commercial interests in BCCI like IPL, Champions League and T-20 held to be bad for the reasons we have set out in the foregoing paras (in the judgement),” the bench, also comprising Justice F M I Kalifulla, said.
“Conflict of interest is one area which appears to have led to the current confusion and serious misgivings in the public mind as to the manner in which BCCI is managing its affairs,” the court said.
It also opined that it would not be correct to say that there is no possibility of any conflict of interest arising in IPL format between an administrator’s duty and the commercial interest, if any, held by such person.
The bench also noted that conflict of interest “is not only possible but ominously looming large if an administrator also owns a competing team.”
“BCCI’s commercial plans for its own benefit and the benefit of the players are bound to blow up in smoke, if the people who watch and support the game were to lose interest or be indifferent because, they get to know that some business interests have hijacked the game for their own ends or that the game is no longer the game they know or love because of frauds on and off the field,” it said.
The bench also said although it may not be feasible at this stage to interfere with the award of Chennai Super Kings franchise to India Cement Ltd especially when hundreds of crores have been invested by the franchisee, “the amendment which perpetuates such a conflict cannot be countenanced and shall have to be struck down.”
Terming as unfortunate the amendment to rule 6.2.4, the bench said “it clearly negates the declarations and resolves of BCCI by permitting situations in which conflict of interest would grossly erode the confidence of the people in the authenticity, purity and integrity of the game.”
“An amendment which strikes at the very essence of the game as stated in the Anti Corruption Code cannot obviously co-exist with the fundamental imperatives. Conflict of interest situation is a complete anti-thesis to everything recognized by BCCI as constituting fundamental imperatives of the game hence unsustainable and impermissible in law,” the bench said.