What’s the story?
In a major decision today, both the President and the Secretary of the Board of Control for Cricket in India – Anurag Thakur and Ajay Shirke – have been removed from their respective positions by the Supreme Court of India.
The apex court has removed Thakur reportedly on the grounds that he lied on his oath and has also served a show-cause notice to him on the issue of perjury. The perjury charges have been labelled on him since the Supreme Court believed that he asked the present Chairman of the International Cricket Council Shashank Manohar for a letter twice and the court felt that this intended to portray the order to be seen by the ICC as government interference.
The apex court will also initiate perjury charges against Thakur.
The larger issue for the removal is the fact that Thakur did not comply with the recommendations made by the Lodha panel, in order to improve the governance of cricket in India.
The court has given Thakur time until the 19th of January to respond to the charges imposed on him by the apex court, until which time, the board will have an observer.
In case you didn’t know...
The whole matter took birth during the last phase of the 2013 Indian Premier League when three Rajasthan Royals players- S Sreesanth, Ajit Chandila and Ankit Chavan- were alleged to have been involved in spot-fixing. Later in the year, Sreesanth and Chavan were banned for life while no ruling was made on Chandila.
The Supreme Court of India appointed Justice Mukul Mudgal to examine claims of irregularities in the BCCI and the IPL. In the June 2015, the apex court appointed a three-member panel, consisting of former Chief Justice of India, RM Lodha and retired Supreme Court Judges-Ashok Bhan and R Raveendran- to recommend reforms for cricket in India and determine punishments for those accused by the Mudgal Committee.
You can read the entire timeline of the saga here.
The heart of the matter
Thakur has been under severe pressure on not implementing the Lodha Panel recommendations completely, stating that they could not comply with all the points given by the panel and hence, now they were left with no option but to take such a drastic step.
When contacted, Mr. Shirke said that he had not received any court order yet and did not want to dwell further into the matter.
“I have not got any court order copy, do not want to speak on it,” Mr. Shirke told News18, following the decision.
He further told NDTV that if the Supreme Court have indeed removed him the post of the Secretary, then he was fine with the call and wished that whoever takes over, runs the board well.
“If SC has asked me to leave, that's fine. I hope the new administration runs BCCI well,” he told NDTV.
“I don't regret anything. I don't have any personal ambitions,” he added.
The Supreme Court further added that the BCCI, as well as state boards had failed to implement its order to bring more transparency and accountability in its working.
Reacting to this bit of news, Justice RM Lodha, who had been appointed the head of the panel, also consisting of retired Supreme Court judges Ashok Bhan and R Raveendran, said that this was bound to happen sooner or later and added that he had submitted 3 reports and yet there was no change to be seen.
“This was to happen, and now this has happened. Had submitted 3 reports before Supreme court, even then it wasn't implemented,” Mr.Lodha said.
The Supreme Court have decided to appoint an observer for the next fortnight and until then, the senior most vice-president of the BCCI will oversee operations. The elected vice-president will need to give an undertaking that they would abide by the recommendations of the Lodha Panel.
The names of current President of the Cricket Association of Bengal Sourav Ganguly and current President of the Karnataka State Cricket Association Brijesh Patel are doing the rounds as replacements for Thakur for the top post of the BCCI.
A final verdict on this whole matter was to come out at some point and it might have been best suited for the BCCI that Anurag Thakur had complied with the Lodha recommendations rather than get caught on the receiving end of the Supremer Court ruling in this manner.
While Anurag Thakur and the BCCI did have their own views over certain points in the Lodha recommendations, it would have helped the cause of cricket in India had they acknowledged that the Lodha panel intended to drive greater transparency and governance in the BCCI.
Another error that Anurag Thakur made was to challenge the Supreme Court, which has a renowned history of delivering some significant verdicts. To confront them constantly in the manner that he did, was not the smartest of ideas. Also, he could have found an alternate route to ensure that the BCCI came somewhere close to being on the same page as the recommendations.
It also remains to be seen if these decisions taken today will have any bearing on the on-field action that resumes in a couple of weeks’ time. India takes on England in the three-match ODI and T20I series at home.