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Appoint ombudsman to end impasse over KL Rahul, Hardik Pandya: CoA to Supreme Court

The top court said it will hear the matter next week after senior advocate P S Narasimha, the new amicus curiae is available to assist it in the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) case.

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New Delhi Published on: January 17, 2019 20:09 IST
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Appoint ombudsman to end impasse over KL Rahul, Hardik Pandya: CoA to Supreme Court

The Committee of Administrators (CoA) on Thursday told the Supreme Court that an ombudsman be appointed for the Indian cricket board to decide the quantum of punishment for suspended cricketers K L Rahul and Hardik Pandya, involved in a row over "insensitive" remarks against women.

The top court said it will hear the matter next week after senior advocate P S Narasimha, the new amicus curiae, is available to assist it in the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) case.

Both Rahul and Pandya have been suspended pending inquiry for their remarks against women on a TV show, which had triggered a controversy.

A bench of justices S A Bobde and A M Sapre said all the interlocutory applications in the BCCI case will be heard next week after Narasimha takes over charge.

At the outset, senior advocate Parag Tripathi, appearing for CoA said that the ombudsman needs to be appointed as only two members - Chairman Vinod Rai and Diana Edulji - are left after the resignation of two members from the earlier four-member panel appointed by the court to administer the affairs of BCCI.

"They (Rahul and Pandya) are young players and a decision needs to be taken on their fate immediately. They made some insensitive remarks on a roasting show. The two members of CoA believes that it will be for the ombudsman to take a decision on the quantum of punishment," Tripathi said.

CoA chief Rai had reportedly recommended a two-match ban on Pandya and Rahul but Edulji had taken the matter to the BCCI legal cell, which refused to call the players' actions a violation of the code of conduct and recommended the appointment of an ombudsman.

The court appointed former additional solicitor general Narasimha as amicus curiae after senior advocate Maninder Singh suggested his name.

Narasimha was appointed in the place of senior advocate Gopal Subramanian, who had recused himself from being an amicus curiae to assist the court in the BCCI case.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Maharashtra Cricket Association (MCA), said the mandate of CoA is now over and as a new BCCI constitution has been approved by the court and even states have adopted it.

He said that the only thing that needs to be done now is to direct for holding the elections as funds are not being released to the state.

"In Maharashtra, our Pune cricket stadium has now been attached by the bankers because BCCI is not giving us funds and we have no money to pay the banks," Mehta said and added that ombudsman should be appointed after the election.

Tripathi countered the arguments of Mehta and said that as per direction of apex court the states, who have not adopted the new constitution and accepted the recommendation of former Chief Justice of India R M Lodha-led panel on structural reforms were not to be given funds by the BCCI.

He said that so far only 11 state cricket bodies have adopted the new constitution and therefore funds were withheld.

Senior advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for one of the parties that election should be directed to be held and ombudsman should be appointed after that in the BCCI.

He said that states were forced to adopt the new constitution of the BCCI or else the funds were not released to them.

Senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi, appearing for Porbandar District Cricket Association, said that they have filed an application seeking direction to Saurashtra Cricket Association that they be made members in the cricket body.

"They are allowing outsiders to become members of the body but not the district cricket association," he said.

The bench, however, said that all the issues will be taken up next week when the new amicus curiae is available.

On August 9, last year, the apex court has approved the BCCI's new draft constitution, effectively diluting its earlier order, to allow office bearers to hold office for six consecutive years instead of three and reinstated voting rights of four legacy cricket associations in Maharashtra and Gujarat.

The top court had directed all state cricket bodies to adopt the new constitution in letter and spirit within four weeks and warned them of action for any non-compliance as envisaged in its earlier orders including in form of non-disbursal of funds from the cash-rich BCCI.

In a string of rulings in this long-running case, the court had restored voting rights and permanent membership of Mumbai, Saurashtra, Vadodara and Vidarbha cricket associations, all with a rich history in domestic cricket whose voting rights were taken away by the Lodha committee.

The Supreme Court, in its July 18, 2016 verdict, had accepted most recommendations of the Lodha committee, which was formed in January 2015 with the aim to reform the BCCI following charges of large-scale maladministration in the cash-rich cricket body.

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