New Delhi: Sidelined president N Srinivasan on Friday offered an unconditional apology for presiding over the February 8 Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) Working Committee meeting in breach of the January 2015 Supreme Court order.
Srinivasan told the court that it was due to bonafide misunderstanding of the court's order which led him to chair the meet. "I am offering an unqualified apology. We looked at the letter of the order and not the spirit," the court was told.
Accepting the apology, the court said that the matter stands closed. The bench of Justice T S Thakur and Justice Fakkir Mohamed Ibrahim Kalifulla permitted Srinivasan to cast vote to elect office bearers on behalf the Tamil Nadu Cricket Association (TNCA) at the Annual General Body (AGM) meeting of the BCCI March 2.
The court made it clear that Srinivasan would be exercising the vote on behalf of TNCA as a representative and not as its president, only if TNCA formally authorises him to do so. The court also made it clear that apart from voting, Srinivasan would not be participating in the AGM when it takes up other issues on its agenda and that TNCA would be represented by another person.
Srinivasan offered the apology in the wake of a contempt petition by the Cricket Association Bihar (CAB) which had said that Srinivasan had committed a contempt of court by presiding over the meeting, in breach of the January 22 apex court verdict.
The apex court on Jan 22 had said that Srinivasan cannot contest elections for BCCI presidency as long as he is involved in "conflict of interest" as an owner of Indian Premier League (IPL) franchise Chennai Super Kings (CSK).
"...no one who has any commercial interest in BCCI events shall be eligible for contesting the elections for any post whatsoever," the court had said while holding void and ineffective the amendment of BCCI rules permitting its office bearers to have commercial interest in events like IPL and Champions Trophy.
Senior counsel Kapil Sibal, appearing for Srinivasan, offered the apology. Senior counsel Nalini Chidambram, appearing for CAB, told the court that Srinivasan could not even participate in the proceedings of the AGM.
As court said "we leave it you" to take a call on the submission by Chidambram, Sibal urged the court to make the position clear as he does not want to fall foul of the court again.
"I don't want to fall foul of the court. Let us be clear. Don't put him in jeopardy. He is entitled to vote who should be next president. What is the conflict of interest in voting," Sibal said.
Sibal told the court that "in election no executive decisions are taken. There is just a vote and there is no conflict of interest. My conflict of interest arises as BCCI president. My franchise can't be taken away. I have given up. I have transferred my shares".
Having said this, Sibal added that even politicians who fall foul with law are allowed to vote. As Sibal was told that the disqualification was not issue based, he urged the court to pass an order: "I don't want to be hauled up for contempt."