The Supreme Court on Wednesday asked the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) why it did not take any action on the complaint of its former president, A.C. Muthiah, alleging conflict of interests against BCCI secretary N. Srinivasan.
A Bench of Justices J.M. Panchal and Gyan Sudha Misra is hearing an appeal filed by Mr. Muthiah against an interim order of the Madras High Court declining to interfere with a BCCI regulation which made an exclusion of events such as Indian Premier League (IPL) or Champions League, Twenty20 (T20), for administrators to have directly or indirectly any commercial interest in the matches or events conducted by the Board.
Prior to the amendment, Clause 6.2.4 of the Regulations for Players, Team officials, Umpires and Administrators, said “no administrator shall have, directly or indirectly, any commercial interest in the matches and events conducted by the Board.” But after the amendment, the clause said “no administrator shall have directly or indirectly any commercial interest in any of the events of the BCCI, excluding IPL, Champions League and Twenty20.”
Mr. Muthiah had written to the BCCI that the award of IPL franchise of Chennai Super Kings to M/S India Cements was in breach of the unamended rule prohibiting its office bearers from engaging in conflict of interest activities. Mr. Srinivasan is the vice-chairman and managing director of M/S India Cements.
When senior counsel Nalini Chidambaram, appearing for Mr. Muthiah, submitted that the suit was filed only after no action was taken on the complaint filed by Mr. Muthiah, Justice Sudha asked Attorney-General G.E. Vahanvati, appearing for the BCCI: “If you had acted on the complaint there would not have been any problem. But you have failed to act. Your duty is to act as per your own rule. You [BCCI] can't say that we are a private body and we will not answer the complaint. The suit was filed only because you did not act. Even now, let the BCCI conduct the enquiry or refer the matter to an arbitration. Why should the court be burdened with the suit?”
Justice Sudha also wanted to know from Mr. Vahanvati who initiated the amendment and what the procedure was for bringing the amendment.
Mr. Vahanvati submitted that the BCCI was an autonomous private body and not an instrument of the state. He maintained that Mr. Muthiah could neither file a suit nor file a writ petition as he did not satisfy the requirements. He said Mr. Muthiah neither had a right that had been breached nor locus standi to feel aggrieved. He rejected the contention that under the BCCI regulations Mr. Muthiah, being the former president, was also an administrator of the BCCI.
Tamil Nadu Advocate-General P.S. Raman, who too appeared for the BCCI, said the working committee's recommendations to amend the clause had been approved by the BCCI's general body. He said: “Unlike the Ranji Trophy or other tournaments, which are representative in character, T20 and IPL were purely commercial franchises and this was the rationale behind the amendment.”
He said the wisdom of the board members was not justiciable at the instance of third parties and filing of suit in public interest was unheard of. Arguments will continue on Thursday.