BCCI moves Supreme Court to seek urgent hearing on amendments of Indian cricket board constitution

The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), moved the Supreme Court on Friday seeking urgent hearing on a plea for approval to amend six rules of the board’s constitution.

The matter is likely to now be heard as early as next week.

The tenure of Sourav Ganguly as BCCI president and Jay Shah as BCCI secretary is set to expire in September 2022.

In 2019, the General Body of the BCCI during an AGM on December 1, 2019 proposed six amendments, including one in Rule 6 of the Constitution, which had barred BCCI and state board office bearers from holding office for more than 6 consecutive years.

According to the current rules, any person who has been an office bearer in the BCCI or state Cricket body, or any combination, has to undergo a mandatory 3 year “cooling off period” following a maximum six-year term in office. During this period, they cannot hold office in either a state body or in the BCCI. This would effectively bar the current office bearers of the BCCI from holding any posts either in the BCCI or any state board, for the next three years.

Before his appointment to the BCCI, Ganguly had served as president of the Cricket Association of Bengal (CAB) since 2014, while Jay Shah was an office bearer in Gujarat Cricket Association since 2013. At present, their tenure is technically under “extension” since the Supreme Court had not heard the plea for amendment of the rules or given any orders regarding their removal from office.

The AGM proposed the amendment to allow for BCCI office-bearers to hold posts in the state associations. In addition, the proposed amendment would completely remove this six-year tenure rule for the president and secretary of the state associations.

The application moved before the Apex court says that “the provision contained in Rule 6.4 applies to the eligibility to contest the election and not continuance of an elected person who is already elected before the commencement of disqualification, the general body has, in its wisdom, thought it necessary to amend the said provision so as to ensure that in the fresh elections after 3 years, the BCCI is not deprived of the experience gained by the individuals in the state association.”

The other proposed amendments also allow for “supervision, direction and control” of the BCCI office-bearers on the day-to-day functioning of the BCCI, which under the present rules was handed over to “professionals in both cricketing and non-cricketing matters.”

The Constitution of the BCCI had been created under Supreme Court orders in 2018, following recommendations of the Justice Lodha Committee, to “remove political influence and allow professional sports persons to have control” of the sports body.

Any changes or amendments in the rules must be approved by the Supreme Court, as the court is still monitoring the issue. The application for approval of amendments was originally moved in April 2020, but there was no hearing on the matter during the Covid lockdown period, and due to adjournment sought by the BCCI. In the meantime, the Amicus curiae appointed in the case, PS Narasimha, has been elevated as a Judge of the Supreme Court.

The plea seeking early hearing was mentioned by senior advocate PS Patwalia before the bench headed by the CJI on Friday. The current tentative date of hearing according to the Supreme court website is 6 September.

While mentioning the matter, Patwalia pointed out that the issue had been “pending for 2 years and needs urgent consideration since approval of amendments is necessary.”

The Chief Justice has for now said that “we will see if it can be heard next week.”

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