Given the marching orders by Supreme Court, the sacked duo of BCCI President Anurag Thakur and Secretary Ajay Shirke today said they will abide by the directive even though they made their skepticism with the verdict quite apparent. Thakur and Shirke were told to quit office with immediate effect by an irate Supreme Court, which held that it was mandatory for the BCCI to implement the Lodha Committee recommendations on administrative reforms in toto.
The court ruled that, for the time being, the senior-most vice President of the BCCI will act as the stand-in President and the joint Secretary would carry out the Secretary’s functions. DDCA Vice President CK Khanna, 64, is among the seniormost VPs in the Board right now.
The apex court also issued a contempt notice to Thakur seeking his response as to why he should not be held liable for obstructing the implementation of the Lodha reforms, which were first made mandatory on July 18 last year.
Thakur took a subtle dig at the order saying that if the apex court feels the cricketing body will do well under the guidance of retired judges, “I wish them all the best”.
“For me it was not a personal battle, it was a battle for the autonomy of the sports body. I respect Supreme Court as any citizen should. If Supreme Court judges feel that BCCI could do better under retired judges, I wish them all the best. I am sure Indian cricket will do well under their guidance,” said Thakur.
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He reacted to the Supreme Court order by putting up a video clip on social media.
“My commitment to the best of Indian cricket and autonomy of sports will always remain,” he said.
Thakur was BCCI joint secretary and secretary before being elected president in May 2016. The BJP MP has also served as Himachal cricket boss for more than a decade.
“I had the honour of serving Indian cricket. Over the years, Indian cricket saw its best in terms of administration and development of the game. BCCI is the best managed sports organisation in the country with defined procedures. India has the best infrastructure built and maintained by state association with help of BCCI. India has more quality players than anywhere in the world.
Shirke, on the other hand, said he is “absolutely fine” with the Supreme Court order but hoped that the Board does not lose its international standing owing to the administrative upheaval here.
“I have no reaction to that (to his sacking). If that is the Supreme Court order, I cease to be secretary. It cannot get any simpler than that. My role in BCCI is over,” said Shirke shortly after Supreme Court removed him and president Anurag Thakur as the office-bearers of the BCCI.
The two faced the wrath of the Supreme Court after BCCI failed to implement the Lodha panel reforms under their leadership.
When asked whether the situation could have been avoided had the Board implemented the sweeping reforms earlier, Shirke said there was no question of handling the issue differently.
“At the end of the day, the BCCI comprises of members. It is not about me or the president. It is about the members.
“I have no reason to go into history. History can be judged by people differently. I have no personal attachment to the post. In the past also I have resigned and I have lots of other things to do. I came back to the Board as there was a vacancy and I was elected unopposed. Now it has come to this (the Supreme Court). I am completely fine with it and I have no regrets,” said Shirke from the UK.
A bench headed by Chief Justice T S Thakur said the working of BCCI will be looked after by a committee of administrators and requested senior advocate Fali S Nariman and senior advocate Gopal Subramanian, the amicus curiae in the matter, to assist the court in nominating persons of impeccable integrity for the panel.
Shrike hoped the Board does not lose its powerful position on the global stage.
“I hope the new dispensation continues the good work done by the BCCI. Hope the Board doesn’t lose more face globally. I also hope the Indian team is able to maintain its supremacy in all three formats of the game,” Shirke added.
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Justice R M Lodha, who headed the three-member panel formed by Supreme Court to suggest structural reforms in the BCCI, said it was only a matter of time for the recommendations to be implemented.
“This is a logical consequence because once the reforms were accepted by the Supreme Court, they had to be implemented. There were obstructions and obviously this had to happen and it has happened,” said Lodha.
“One should understand that once the order of the Supreme Court has come, it has to be obeyed. It is law of the land. It is victory for cricket. The game will flourish. Administrators come and go but the game goes on,” Lodha added.
The Supreme Court bench, also comprising Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud, said that Nariman and Subramanian will complete the task in two weeks and the matter for passing the direction for nominating the persons in committee of administrators will be taken up on January 19.
Meanwhile, the cricketing fraternity led by former India spinner Bishan Bedi hailed the apex court’s verdict.
“This is a landmark judgement. It is good for Indian cricket and it will be back on track. There is light now and we are thankful to the Supreme Court. I don’t have to get into debate. This is full and final. This is going to be great news for Indian sports and cricket in particular. If you are watching IOA, it is in shambles. That will be clarified too,” said Bedi. The Lodha committee recommendations on one state one vote was one of the most opposed by the BCCI, especially its affiliate Mumbai Cricket Association (MCA).
Sharad Pawar, who resigned as MCA president last month to adhere to age cap of 70 years recommended by the Lodha, was left disappointed after the Supreme Court order today.
Implementing one-state one-vote would mean Mumbai, Maharashtra and Vidarbha will have to right to vote on rotational basis.
“It is the saddest day for Mumbai cricket. Mumbai cricket has produced so many international stars and done so much for Indian cricket (including record 41 time Ranji champions). The decision to keep Mumbai away from voting is painful,” said Pawar.
Veteran administrator Niranjan Shah, who is secretary of Saurashtra Cricket Association, said there was no option other than implementing the Lodha reforms.
“Whatever Supreme Court says is final. We will have to abide by that,” said Shah.
Tamil Nadu Cricket Association secretary Kasi Viswanathan too concurred with his Saurashtra counterpart, saying the body will adopt Lodha recommendations.
“We will have to go by what the Supreme Court has ordered. Anything else will be contempt of court. It has to be followed. We will soon call for a Special General Meeting to chart the road ahead,” Viswanathan told PTI.
Brijesh Patel, secretary of the Karnataka State Cricket Association (KSCA), said they were awaiting a copy of the Supreme Court order.
“I can’t say anything until I read the order. Only after going through the order we can discuss the road ahead,” Patel told PTI when asked whether KSCA would implement the Lodha reforms.
However, rattled by the verdict, senior BCCI vice President Gokaraju Ganga Raju today made it clear that his association Andhra CA will implement Lodha Reforms with immediate effect.
“There is no confusion as Supreme Court has passed it’s verdict. As the president of Andhra Cricket Association we would implement Lodha Reforms in totality with immediate effect. If it means that we have to go into cooling off period, so be it. Indian cricket should move forward,” Ganga Raju told PTI today.
There is speculation that he might be in line for interim president’s post after Supreme Court removed Anurag Thakur today but he does not want to get into it.
“Look, I still need some clarity over the matter. Mr CK Khanna of DDCA is also a senior VP. But in any case it will be a temporary post as I will also have to go into compulsory cooling off period. But if such kind of responsibility is entrusted on me, I will perform my duties with utmost honesty and sincerity,” Ganga Raju said.