Recent Supreme Court’s verdict on Srinivasan will certainly prevent the sporting frauds & conflict of interest. Hopefully, the working of BCCI will be more responsive to the expectation of the public at large and to bring in transparency in practices.
The very looking to the nomenclature of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), which functions in regulating the game of cricket in India and having major say in today’s International Cricket Council (ICC) gives a feeling that it’s an organisation being governed or patronised by the Government. But alas it’s a private body registered as a society like any NGO under the Societies Registration Act in Tamil Nadu. This myth now exposed and revealed in public domain by Our Hon’able Supreme Court holding that nevertheless it was amenable to writ jurisdiction. This new expansion of concept and dimension of judicial review was in the offing and I had and occasion to see the anguish of the Hon’ble Justice A K Patnaik (then, now retired) while the hearing of the case BCCI Vs Cricket Association of Bihar &Ors, being CA No. 4235 of 2014 was going on. The timely intervention of this cricket lover, who relying on the interest and in-depth knowledge of Justice MukulMudgal (retired Judge, Punjab & Haryana High Court), appointed him, to probe into the Indian Premier League 2013 betting and spot fixing scandal. While hearing the case on that faithful day, Justice Patnaik observed in open Court that the cricket in India is revered more than a religion and thus a crusade was started to lift the veil of the BCCI and finally determined by this verdict ensuring transparency and accountability in each and every sports’ bodies plus federations including the BCCI. It is a laudable and welcome step by our judiciary to protect the credibility, maintaining the interest and dignity of the sport; managed and regulated by the respective institutions and federations like the ones we’ve talked about. This verdict will definitely plug the holes which have already damaged. Every time a tournament national or international event take place, we find our sports marred with some controversy or the other. Ultimately leading to the sufferance of the preparations and motivation of the players and the Indian position in the medal tally becomes a self-explanatory and a matter of grave concern for the Nation.
The recent issues in relation to other sport like hockey, football and boxing Vis a Vis the role of Sports Authority of India (SAI) and other bodies of similar nature; warrants intervention by this our savior judiciary, when everything fails. This recent verdict in the opening para of the judgment, authored by the Hon’ble Justice TS Thakur, Supreme Court, had very aptly, shown the concern that there is no denying the fact that lower the threshold of tolerance for any wrong doing higher is the expectation of the people from the system and cricket; being not only a passion but also a great unifying force in this country, a zero tolerance approach towards any wrong doing alone can satisfy the cry for cleansing. It had been rightly held that the BCCI does discharge several important public functions and the control over cricket was deep and pervasive, and that it exercised enormous public functions, which made it obligatory for the BCCI to follow the doctrine of “fairness and good faith” in all its activities.
The Hon’ble Supreme Court in one of its earlier judgment in the case of “BCCI and Anr. Vs Netaji Cricket Club (2005)” on the role of the BCCI had upheld that having regard to the fact that, it has to fulfill the hopes and aspirations of the millions, it has a duty to act reasonably.
It cannot act arbitrarily, whimsically or capriciously. As the Board controls the profession of cricketers, its actions are required to be judged and viewed by higher standards. The Hon’ble Court, now with this verdict, has affirmatively and finally determined that the BCCI despite not falling under the meaning of ‘State’ is certainly amenable to writ jurisdiction under the Article 226 of the Constitution of India. Conclusively, the verdict in “BCCI Vs Cricket Association of Bihar &Ors.” is a right step in right direction to go on the finding talented and true spirited players capable of raising the dignity and pride of India in sports. The Country like ours has no dearth of talent and the only shortcoming is that we’re unable to find them and groom them by adopting transparency and fixing accountability on the sports bodies and federations other than BCCI also.
-Sanjay Kumar Visen, (The writer is an Advocate-On-Record, Supreme Court)