Kolkata: Will it eventually all be about the wording of a critical clause or its interpretation or, indeed, the underlying spirit of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI)’s constitution?
The questions are relevant for the future of president Sourav Ganguly, secretary Jay Shah and joint secretary Jayesh George as office bearers. They have been in their positions since last October.
Ganguly completes six years as an administrator by the end of the month, Jay (son of Union Home Minister Amit Shah) is understood to have completed his six years in May, while George is to complete six years in September.
While Ganguly earlier held positions in the Cricket Association of Bengal, Jay was a joint secretary in the Gujarat Cricket Association (GCA) and George has been an office bearer in Kerala. Jay became an office bearer, in 2013, when Narendra Modi was the GCA president, and continued when his father began his innings. Until when is not in the public domain.
According to the BCCI’s constitution, a cooling-off period of three years becomes mandatory. However, it does not specifically say that office must be relinquished once six years as an administrator are completed.
The relevant clause (chapter 2/6.4) reads: “An office bearer who has held any post for two consecutive terms either in a state association or in the BCCI (or a combination of both) shall not be eligible to contest any further election. During the cooling-off period, such an office bearer shall not…”
Nowhere does the constitution specifically state that the cooling-off period comes into force immediately. That may be implied and the moral factor can come into play. Equally, some may interpret the wording to mean that the affected office bearer can continue till the next election, which (as of now) will be in September 2022.
It is here that interpretation takes centre stage. If you are not eligible to contest an election, are you still eligible to remain an office bearer?
Ganguly has over 18,000 runs at the international level, but the pitch right now is not a featherbed for him or the other two office bearers.
Each term, by the way, is of three years.
Amendments awaits Supreme Court hearing
Significantly, the Sourav-headed BCCI got a string of amendments to the constitution unanimously passed by the BCCI’s AGM last December.
As any amendment requires the Supreme Court’s seal of approval, the BCCI’s “Application for Direction” was filed three months ago, but the Supreme Court is yet to fix a date for hearing.
CJI Sharad Arvind Bobde is expected to chair the bench which will hear matters related to the BCCI. It includes the Comptroller & Auditor General of India (CAG) wanting an end to its short innings on the Apex Council.
The next Apex Council meeting is scheduled for Friday, 17 July.
To talk of the amendments, Clause 2/6.4 has been amended to read: “A president or secretary who has served in such position for two consecutive terms in the BCCI shall not be eligible to contest any further election without completing a cooling-off period of three years. During the cooling-off period…”
The move is aimed at delinking tenures in a state unit and in the BCCI. It is a drastic amendment, defeating a key objective of the Justice Rajendra Mal Lodha Committee’s reforms, which powered the constitution.
Should the Supreme Court approve the same, Ganguly (in home quarantine after elder brother Snehashish tested positive for Covid-19) and Jay will probably sleep easy till 2025! But what if this amendment is rejected?
“Then it will be about interpretation, about the specifics of the language used in the constitution, its wording. The counter-argument will surely be that if the three office bearers continue, even after completing six years, then reforms get dumped,” the president of a state unit affiliated to the BCCI told ThePrint.
Another amendment, which may not go down well with the Supreme Court, is that changes in the “rules and regulations” will no longer require its approval. A three-fourths majority of the members present at an SGM will alone suffice for the changes to come into effect.
To put it simply, the BCCI is seeking ‘independence’ from the Supreme Court, which has been in the picture in a big way since 2013.
Depending on how the Supreme Court responds, the BCCI will either plunge into a crisis — having to elect a new president and secretary to start with — or move forward with pressure off the shoulders of three office bearers.
In any case, in the time of a pandemic, there already are enough problems.
It is interesting that nobody in the BCCI wishes to openly speak about the six years issue. Sensitive for most, but not for Alka Rehani Bhardwaj, the CAG’s nominee on the Apex Council, who raised it in an email to office bearers earlier this month.
Bhardwaj, in fact, was blunt right through her email, not just in the “note” part where she mentioned: “…This is being reiterated to ensure compliance with the Honourable Supreme Court-approved constitution.”
Clearly, only an outsider, with no stake in the intra-BCCI politics, will be comfortable raising uncomfortable issues/questions. That has been the reality.
Why news media is in crisis & How you can fix it
You are reading this because you value good, intelligent and objective journalism. We thank you for your time and your trust.
You also know that the news media is facing an unprecedented crisis. It is likely that you are also hearing of the brutal layoffs and pay-cuts hitting the industry. There are many reasons why the media’s economics is broken. But a big one is that good people are not yet paying enough for good journalism.
We have a newsroom filled with talented young reporters. We also have the country’s most robust editing and fact-checking team, finest news photographers and video professionals. We are building India’s most ambitious and energetic news platform. And have just turned three.
At ThePrint, we invest in quality journalists. We pay them fairly. As you may have noticed, we do not flinch from spending whatever it takes to make sure our reporters reach where the story is.
This comes with a sizable cost. For us to continue bringing quality journalism, we need readers like you to pay for it.
If you think we deserve your support, do join us in this endeavour to strengthen fair, free, courageous and questioning journalism. Please click on the link below. Your support will define ThePrint’s future.