The Supreme Court on Thursday gave a split verdict on the appeal filed by the former president of the Board of Control for Cricket in India, A.C. Muthiah, against a Madras High Court order declining to interfere with a BCCI regulation which made an exclusion of events such as the Indian Premier League or the Champions League Twenty20 (T20) for administrators to have directly or indirectly any commercial interest in the matches or events conducted by the Board.

In view of the disagreement between them, Justices J. M. Panchal and Gyan Sudha Misra referred the matter to Chief Justice of India S.H. Kapadia for posting it before a larger Bench to decide the issue.

While Justice Panchal held that amendment to Clause 6.2.4 of the Regulations for Players, Team officials, Umpires and Administrators excluding certain events was valid, Justice Ms. Gyan Sudha Misra held that it was invalid.

Prior to the amendment, the rule 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.”

It was argued on behalf of the appellant that the vice-chairman and managing director of India Cements, N. Srinivasan, being BCCI treasurer (at that time), could not have participated in the bidding process for the IPL team in view of the conflict of interest.

Rejecting the allegation of conflict of interest in the award of the IPL franchise of Chennai Super Kings to India Cements, Justice Panchal said: “It is thoroughly misconceived and proceeds on certain presumptions which have no factual basis.”

The judge said: “As far as the BCCI is concerned, all decisions relating to management and administration are taken by its Managing Committee. The record does not indicate that any franchisee or any other member of the BCCI has complained of any alleged conflict of interest. Thus, the plea of conflict of interest is substance-less and is hereby rejected.”

Even if it was assumed for the sake of argument that the two suits filed by the appellant were maintainable, the judge said: “On examination of the Rules and Regulations of the BCCI this court finds that players regulations promulgated on September 29, 2000 had not contemplated nor covered the events like IPL, Champions League T20, etc., because they were unknown and never existed. The record shows that not a single member objected to the proposed amendment. On the contrary, the record unerringly shows that the resolution relating to the impugned amendment was passed unanimously by the members. The appellant has failed to establish that because of the so-called conflict of interest, Mr. Srinivasan has caused financial loss to the BCCI.”

Rejecting the locus standi of Mr. Muthiah, Justice Panchal said, “Merely because he was associated in the past with the administration of the BCCI, that fact by itself will not clothe him with any legal right to maintain an action in law against the BCCI.” Dismissing the appeals against the interim order, Justice Panchal said the appellant, who had filed the suits in his individual capacity, would have to be considered an outsider. He held that the appellant was not entitled to maintain two suits against the BCCI claiming that he was an administrator.

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