Ganguly, Shah not out at BCCI

New Delhi: In a relief to BCCI president Sourav Ganguly and Secretary Jay Shah, the Supreme Court on Wednesday relaxed its August 9, 2018 judgment and permitted the cricket administrators to have two consecutive terms of three years each at the level of state cricketing association.

This will be followed by two consecutive terms of three years each in the BCCI before a cooling-off period of three years sets in, the SC ruled.

Earlier, the top court ordered on August 9, 2018 that a cricket administrator would undergo a cooling-off period of three years after two consecutive terms of three years each either in the state cricket association or BCCI or both; and the maximum term for an administrator was capped at nine years. Today’s relaxation not only protects Ganguly and Shah from continuing in BCCI beyond their term, but also clears the hurdles for a shot for another term in the BCCI. A bench comprising Justice D.Y. Chandrachud and Justice Hima Kohli also said that a cricket administrator will not be disqualified from office on being charged of an offence.

But, upon conviction, the disqualification will follow in normal course as is the case with ministers and other public servants.

The court said this while accepting several amendments to the BCCI constitution that had been unanimously adopted by the BCCI annual general body meeting on December 1, 2019. The BCCI constitution was approved by the top court in 2018 and no changes can be brought in it without its nod.

In the course of the hearing, a lawyer appearing for two former office-bearers of the association of Bihar cricket opposed the amendments adopted by the BCCI and was now before the top court for its approval. Justice Chandrachud clarified that in the 2018 judgment they had not said that the constitution of BCCI was “immutable”.

The August 9, 2018, judgment was delivered by a bench of three judges – Chief Justice Dipak Misra, Justice AM Khanwilkar (both retired) and Justice Chandrachud. However, it was modified by a two-judge bench comprising Justice Chandrachud and Justice Kohli on Wednesday.

While relaxing its August 9, 2018 order on the terms of the cricket administrators and the cooling-off period, Justice Chandrachud said the purposes of bringing in the cooling-off period will not be impacted by the change.

The top court by its 2018 judgment had said that a “cooling-off period should be observed” as it had several important features that included preventing “development of vested personal interests”, it “ensures against the concentration of power in a few hands”, “facilitates a dispersal of authority” and “encourages the generation of a wider body of experienced administrators”.

The top court in 2018 had also said that the “cooling off" must be accepted as a means to prevent a few individuals from regarding the administration of cricket as a personal turf. The game will be better off without cricketing oligopolies, it had observed.

On Wednesday, the top court declined to accept a suggestion by solicitor general Tushar Mehta to free the BCCI from the reins of the top court in making amendments to its constitution and leaving the BCCI to just inform the top court about the amendments effected by the apex cricketing body to its constitution.

Both Ganguly and Shah along with the BCCI had approached the top court seeking extension of the current tenure of the apex cricketing body’s president and secretary. Both had completed their six years’ term each as cricket administrators and were overdue for the mandatory three-year cooling off period.

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