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Stop funding of state affiliates opposing reforms: SC

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New Delhi, Oct 6 (IANS) The Supreme Court on Thursday said it will pass an order on Friday that the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) will not disburse funds to its state affiliates if they refuse to carry out organisational reforms recommended by the Justice R.M. Lodha Committee and subsequently endorsed by it.

The bench of Chief Justice Tirath Singh Thakur, Justice A.M. Khanwilkar and Justice D.Y. Chandrachud said it would pass an order to that effect on Friday after senior counsel Kapil Sibal told the court that it would be difficult for the BCCI to give an "unconditional undertaking" by that day.

The court had asked the BCCI to give an "unconditional undertaking" that it would hold back the funding of its state affiliates who would resist organisational reforms.

As Sibal said "Tomorrow it (giving an unconditional undertaking) will be difficult", Chief Justice Thakur said "Alright we will pass an order."

Just prior to this, Sibal asked the court: "Can we come back on the undertaking (aspect) on October 17," but the bench said "You can make a statement by tomorrow."

The court will go into the Dussehra break from Saturday and reopen on October 17.

In an indication of the possible future course, the court in the course of the hearing indicated that it had two options -- one to appoint a panel of administrators to oversee the transition in BCCI or ask the Lodha Committee to do it.

The bench said the Lodha Committee could give more time to the country's apex cricketing body to carry out the recommendations or appoint a panel of administrators to effect the transition to new reformed order.

Telling Sibal -- who appeared for the BCCI -- that the court has no problem in extending the time for carrying out the organisational reforms, Chief Justice Thakur said: "If an association (state affiliate of BCCI) is reluctant to reform, why are you giving them money? Why? Why? Your AGM is (read was) on September 30, you disburse money on September 29."

As per the apex court's June 18 judgement, the BCCI has time till November 18, extendable to January 18 to carry out organisational reforms recommended by the Lodha Committee.

Telling the BCCI to give an unconditional undertaking stating that it would abide by all the directions of the Lodha Committee, the bench said: "We can't be wasting our time when BCCI is not willing to abide by our directions."

The court's strong observation came in the course of the hearing of an application by the Lodha Committee seeking some arrangement for the BCCI to transit from its existing order to one based on organisational reforms.

Largely reiterating the Lodha Committee's recommendations on the organisational reforms in BCCI, the apex court by its July 18 judgement had barred government Ministers, and serving civil servants from holding positions in the BCCI or its state affiliates, and recommended one state-one vote, limiting the age of office bearers to 70 years with a maximum term of nine years, and cooling off period between two terms, among others.

There was also a stipulation that a person can't be simultaneously an office bearer of the BCCI and the state cricketing associations -- a provision that directly hits BCCI President Anurag Thakur.

As Sibal tried to explain the BCCI's dependence on its state affiliates saying "We survive because of them", Chief Justice Thakur observed "They survive because of the money you give them".

Telling the BCCI that it was nobody's money but that of the public and must be spent for "public causes", the court reminded the country's apex cricketing body, "You are discharging a public function. You must act in a transparent way".

At the outset of the hearing, senior counsel Gopal Subramanium, giving the sequence of developments including communications exchanged, told the court that the BCCI was finding every "way and means to subvert the judicial order" and described the acts of apex cricketing body as "criminal contempt".

Subramanium said that initially the BCCI was itself opposing the recommended organisational reforms but now it was pitch-forking its state affiliates to do so.

--IANS

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