The Supreme Court took two major decisions on Thursday by appointing Lt. Gen. Ravi Thodge, PVSM, as the third member of the Committee of Administrators (CoA) and former Supreme Court (SC) judge DK Jain as the new Ombudsman of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI).
The decision was made by a two-judge bench of Justice SA Bobde and AM Sapre in the Supreme Court after the newly appointed Amicus Curiae (the friend of the court) and former Additional Solicitor General (ASG) PS Narasimha provided a list of six former SC judges in a sealed envelope, with the names proposed by the CoA for the role of Ombudsman.
“We are happy that by consent of the parties and the suggestions, the name of retired Justice DK Jain has been agreed to be appointed as the Ombudsman in the BCCI. We accordingly appoint Justice (retired) DK Jain as first Ombudsman in the BCCI,” Bobde said at the hearing on Thursday.
To resolve the differences the bench decided to appoint a third member of the CoA immediately. However, the decision to appoint the third member of the CoA was taken in the judge’s chambers in the presence of only the Amicus Narasimha.
“Mr. Narasimha, learned Amicus Curiae, has brought to our notice that from the Committee of Administrators for BCCI appointed by this Court in its order dated 30.1.2017, two members namely Mr. Ramachandra Guha and Mr. Vikram Limaye, have resigned.
"Having regard to the importance of the said Committee of Administrators for administrating the BCCI, we consider it appropriate to appoint Lt. Gen. Ravi Thodge, PVSM, to act as a third member of the aforesaid Committee of Administrators for BCCI,” the order passed by the two-judge bench on Thursday read.
The court directed (retired) Justice Jain to ‘assume charge as soon as possible’. Amicus will discuss all other terms related to his appointment.
"I am honoured to be given this task to be part of the CoA. I have just heard about the appointment a while back, so can't comment on how I'll go about the job. I will meet the other members of CoA soon and then figure things out," Thodge told CricketNext.
On the CoA meeting scheduled on Friday to decide on the course of action for India-Pakistan World Cup match, Thodge said, "I am not sure I'll be able to attend the meeting because I have some very important prior commitments."
According to Chapter Nine, Article 40 of the new BCCI constitution, all kinds of grievance redressals have to be handled by the Ombudsman. In the absence of this position, the matter of disciplinary action against Hardik Pandya and KL Rahul dragged on for weeks which meant the duo was suspended for five matches for their inappropriate comments on TV show ‘Koffee with Karan’.
With (retired) Justice Jain’s appointment as the Ombudsman, the matter of disciplinary action against Pandya and Rahul can officially be put to rest after their suspensions were provisionally lifted by CoA chairman Vinod Rai on January 24 in consultation with Amicus PS Narasimha.
The other member of the CoA and former India women’s captain Diana Edulji was once again present in court with her lawyer Amit Sibal. Before the judge stepped into the court, Edulji was heard instructing Sibal and Amicus Narasimha that two issues should be discussed on priority basis — one was appointment of Ombudsman and second being the necessity for a third member in the CoA to break the deadlock that exists with only two members.
The two-judge SC bench came down hard on the CoA for airing their differences in the media.
“We have read in newspaper reports that some sparring is going on between CoA members. The Amicus should tell CoA not to go public with their differences,” Justice Bobde said.
Some state associations like those from Maharashtra and Kerala put forth their case that they have not got any of their allocated funds from the BCCI and CoA in spite of adopting the new BCCI constitution.
Lawyer Parag Tripathi argued for CoA that they have been paying the ‘vendors’ directly for the smooth conduct of matches. “If the associations adopt the new constitution completely then BCCI elections can be held and all of these problems will be over,” Tripathi argued.
The bench said, “Once a third member is in, the reconstituted CoA may consult the amicus curiae on the release of funds to State associations. Amicus may advise accordingly.”