Hyderabad: While upholding the appointment of Justice Deepak Verma, retired Supreme Court Judge, as the ethics officer cum ombudsman to the Hyderabad Cricket Association (HCA), the Telangana High Court severely faulted the secretary HCA, R. Vijayanand, for “playing fraud to abuse the process of the court”.
Justice M.S. Ramachandra Rao, delivered the order, while dealing with a civil revision petition filed with leave by the Charminar Cricket Club, questioning an order of the city civil court, which had stayed the appointment of Justice Verma.
The Budding Star Cricket Club, affiliated to the HCA, had moved the civil court contending that the resolution of the HCA apex council, in appointing Justice Verma, was without the authority of law.
It contended that the decision of appointment could only be taken at the annual general body. Following this, the civil court had suspended the appointment of Justice Verma.
In revision, the Charminar Cricket Club, also affiliated to the HCA, contending in the High Court that the petitioner was in collusion with HCA secretary Vijayanand and was lacking in bona fides.
The annual general body meeting was not conducted by the HCA due to the outbreak of the Covid-19, the association said.
Upon the apex council decision on June 6, 2020, HCA president Mohammad Azharuddin had written to Justice Verma stating he was being appointed as the ethics officer cum ombudsman for a period of one year. Justice Verma accepted the offer the same day. This was suspended by lower court on the petition of Budding Star Cricket Club.
The High Court opined that the petition in the city civil court was filed by the Budding Star Cricket club in collusion with Vijayanand. The Court said there was a “mala fide intention to cover up misdeeds and illegal acts” of the secretary, which the Supreme Court had intended to put an end to.
The High Court, while recording of findings of abuse of process of the court, pulled up Vijayanand for having played mischief and fraud.
In the petition in lower court, the Budding Star Cricket Club had mentioned HCA as respondent, but had not given its address. Instead, it listed the residential address of Vijayanand as HCA's address.
Another ground was that the decision of the HCA apex council was taken on June 6, 2020, but the petition was filed in the lower court five months later, on November 2. On November 7, 2020, a resolution was passed by the HCA vice-president, secretary, treasurer, joint secretary and councilor, who are members of the apex council, authorising Vijayanand to represent the association in all legal proceedings, litigation and court cases against appointing Justice Verma.
In that meeting, however, Azharuddin, the CAG nominee and nominees of men and women cricket players did not participate. The HCA counsel could not explain why this was so. With that, the court opined that it appears that they were not aware of this meeting held behind their back.
Justice Ramachandra Rao allowed the revision, imposed costs of `25,000 each on Budding Star Cricket Club and Vijayanand, and upheld the order of appointment of Justice Verma. He also dismissed the original petition filed in the civil court, as its continuance might lead to commission of further fraud and mischief by Vijayanand and others supporting him.