The Supreme Court on Friday went for the financial jugular of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI)’s 25 State cricket associations, barring them from using BCCI funds till they accept the Justice Lodha Committee’s reforms in “letter and spirit.” A Bench led by Chief Justice of India T.S. Thakur ordered that the BCCI will not disburse Rs. 16.73 crore each to the 12 State cricket associations. These dozen associations are yet to get the balance payment of their share from nearly Rs. 2,500 crore the BCCI received towards compensation on account of termination of the Champions League T20 tournament. In a short order, Chief Justice Thakur directed that the pending Rs. 16.73 crore and any future funds would be released only after the State associations passed resolutions undertaking to comply with the reforms. This has to be followed by filing affidavits declaring their compliance before both the Lodha panel and the Supreme Court. As for the remaining 13 State associations, which have already received Rs. 16.73 crore, they can only use the money after passing resolutions to implement the Lodha Committee reforms.
The court said several statements and actions of the BCCI are “grossly out of order and may even constitute contempt”. In case the State associations continue to resist the Lodha reforms, their shares would be invested in fixed deposit accounts until they change their minds. The court also barred further disbursal of amounts, courtesy a resolution passed by in the Annual General Meeting held on November 9, 2015 or “any subsequent resolution” by the BCCI or its Working Committee, until the State associations submit their written undertakings to unconditionally comply with the Lodha reforms. The Bench refrained from commenting on amicus curiae Gopal Subramnium’s allegation that this money was paid to buy their support against Lodha reforms, saying “We do not at this stage propose to express any final view on the true intention behind the disbursement of the amount in favour of the State Associations and whether, and if so what, action is called for against BCCI and its office-holders”. The court, however, added that the “BCCI could and indeed ought to have avoided the disbursement of such a huge amount while Justice Lodha Committee was still examining the need for formulating a Disbursement Policy.” “The sequence of events that have taken place since July 18, 2016 and referred to in the status report (of the Lodha Committee) prima facie give an impression that BCCI has far from lending its fullest cooperation to the Committee adopted an obstructionist and at times a defiant attitude which the Committee has taken note of and described as an impediment undermining not only the Committee but even the dignity of this court,” Chief Justice Thakur wrote in the order. The court ordered BCCI president Anurag Thakur to file a personal affidavit by October 17 to explain allegations raised by ICC CEO David Richardson that BCCI asked him to write a letter saying that the Lodha Committee reforms amounted to “government interference”. Senior advocate Gopal Subramanium had brought Mr. Richardson’s allegations to the court’s notice on Thursday. The court found that BCCI had denied the allegation, saying Mr. Richardson was “confusing himself”.