The Committee of Administrators (CoA) chief Vinod Rai said on Monday that 26 state bodies have complied with the new constitution of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) and also appointed electoral officers to conduct elections while there were another four associations which were in the process of appointing electoral officers. He went on to add that those non-compliant will not be allowed to vote in the BCCI elections. But Supreme Court lawyers and State Associations are of the view that this is for the apex court to decide.
Speaking to IANS, state associations' lawyer Amol Chitale made it clear that as far as the state associations are concerned, it was for the Supreme Court to decide if an association has complied or not and the top court has not said anything with regard to the eligibility of a member association to participate in the BCCI elections and has only laid down the eligibility for the individuals who will represent the associations in court.
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"What has happened is that the BCCI constitution was approved by the Supreme Court and then they said that the state associations were required to register their constitutions on similar lines. All the state associations have either amended their constitutions and got them registered or have resolved to do so. Now those constitutions were sent to the CoA to check if they are in order or not. Then the CoA has sent certain points and said these are not in consonance with the BCCI constitution."
BCCI lawyer Gunjan Rishi said that this situation has arisen on account of different interpretations being given to the phrase "similar lines". He said that while the CoA has attempted to interpret it to mean that it should be a mirror image, the state bodies have been advised that this is not the case and therefore they have gone to the apex court to seek clarity while the CoA appears to be acting upon it despite the obvious confusion. There are other such issues as well.
Chitale also had a similar view: "There is a dispute with regards to that whether what the CoA is saying is correct and the state constitution has to be exactly like the BCCI constitution. All these disputes were referred to the amicus curiae P.S. Narasimha by the Supreme Court. The amicus curiae has been given the responsibility to sort this out and if it isn't sorted then make a report of the same and submit it before the court.
"The SC had also said that if anyone has a problem with the amicus curiae opinion then that can also be raised with the court. So that entire exercise has to be completed and till that is done, they (CoA) cannot unilaterally go ahead and hold elections, because the orders of the Court may have far-reaching ramifications," he explained.
Chitale further added that the state associations feel that the final constitution that has been registered by the CoA as the new BCCI constitution has more to it than was proposed by the Lodha panel.
"The states are saying that the BCCI constitution has something more than what was recommended by the Lodha Committee and what was approved by the Supreme Court. The amicus curiae has held a series of meetings with the state associations. And after that he has submitted a report to the Supreme Court. With 11 states he has come to a conclusion and in case of other states the issues are still pending.
"Whether the states have complied or not complied is the issue here. But, what is compliance has now been created as an issue. As per the understanding of the state associations, the BCCI works on different dynamics than state associations and you cannot expect the BCCI constitution to be incorporated as it is by the state associations. They will have their own issues."
Commenting on the submission of the state associations to the amicus curiae, the lawyer said: "Our submission before the amicus curiae was that it need not be a replica of the BCCI constitution. There should be some elbow space to make the necessary changes as per the needs and demands. That is the issue where they (CoA) are saying that you have not complied because your constitution is not similar to that of the BCCI.
"It need not be a carbon copy and that is the bone of contention because the Supreme Court said on similar lines. CoA wants it to be a carbon copy. The amicus curiae was supposed to give a recommendation for these issues and that is awaited. To be fair to him it is a humongous task and he has been devoting a lot of time to it."
Rishi also concurred and said that the amicus curiae is making a lot of effort but it is not in his hands since the CoA and their lawyers are involved and that's why some technicality or the other keeps emerging which has its roots in the difference of interpretation and the Supreme Court would have to settle those issues.
So, till the time the apex court hears out the state associations, the CoA can't decide on whether they are compliant or not as per the BCCI state bodies.