SC Appoints New BCCI Ombudsman, Pulls Up CoA For ‘Public Sparring’

Supreme Court appoints a new BCCI Ombudsman and also pulls up CoA members for their public sparring.

3 min read
Supreme Court appoints a new BCCI Ombudsman and also pulls up CoA members for their public sparring.

The Supreme Court bench comprising Justice SA Bobde and Justice Abhay Manohar Sapre made a few important decisions in Thursday’s BCCI hearing that included the appointment of a new Ombudsman.

The two member bench also pulled up the court-appointed Committee of Administrators (COA) for their public stand-offs. "We believe some sparring is going on. Nobody should bring it in the public domain," Justice SA Bobde told Diana Edulji and Vinod Rai who have had multiple public stand-offs in the last year.

The court later also announced that Lt. General Ravi Thodge, PVSM, will be acting as the CoA’s third member.

The newly-appointed amicus curiae P.S. Narasimha started the hearing by giving a brief account of the proceedings in the matter since 2014 and said about 80-odd applications were pending adjudication.

Narasimha told the court that three-fourths of the journey in the BCCI matter has already been traversed and the remaining stretch appears to be the most difficult.


Ombudsman Appointed

In its 10th status report filed in October 2018, the CoA had asked the Supreme Court to appoint an Ombudsman to help mediate issues between parties within the board and also regarding problems with the implementation of the new Constitution.

The two member bench on Thursday named former Supreme Court Judge Justice DK Jain as the board’s first court-appointed Ombudsman.

“We are happy that by consent of the parties and the suggestions, the name of retired Justice D K Jain has been agreed to be appointed as the ombudsman in the BCCI. We accordingly appoint Justice (retired) D K Jain as first ombudsman in the BCCI.”

Justice Jain emerged as the first choice among the six former apex court judges whose names were placed before a bench in an envelope. When the bench said that Justice Jain is a good name in the list, all the advocates appearing for various parties accepted the suggestion.

The names of probable ombudsmen were provided to the bench by P S Narsimha, who is assisting the court as an amicus curaie.

The need for an Ombudsman came in focus during the Hardik Pandya and KL Rahul controversy after the players were handed suspensions for their sexist comments on a talk show. The BCCI’s legal team suggested an ad-hoc Ombudsman be appointed to carry on the investigation and decide on the quantum of punishment but a disagreement within the CoA then eventually saw the matter drag on.

New CoA Member

It’s been two years since the Supreme Court constituted a four-member Committee of Administrators (COA) to implement the changes within the BCCI that were suggested by the Lodha Committee. Ram Guha and Vikram Limaye have since stepped down from their posts, leaving only CoA Chief Vinod Rai and Diana Edulji effectively running Indian cricket for the past year.

The two however have failed to come to a consensus on almost any big decision that’s been made in the last year including the outcome of Rahul Johri’s #MeToo case investigation or the appointment of the women’s team coach, and more recently, regarding the procedure to be followed for the Pandya-Rahul investigation.

The Supreme Court took note of the public spats between the two CoA members that has seen private emails leaked and meeting minutes released to the press.

“We have heard in newspaper reports that some sparring is going on between CoA members. Tell them not to go public with their differences.”

Besides sounding out a stern reprimand to the members, the court said that the third CoA member Lt. Gen. Thodge will help break deadlocks between the two and also share some of the workload of making State bodies fall in line with the rules of the new Constitution.


Anurag Thakur Trying to Salvage Pride?

The court issued notice on a plea by former BCCI President Anurag Thakur seeking the expunging of certain remarks against him by the top court while accepting his unconditional apology on July 14, 2017. Thakur had tendered unqualified apology after he attracted contempt proceedings by the top court.

Thakur had earned the ire of the court for not candidly telling it that they (BCCI) had asked for a letter from the International Cricket Council (ICC) to say that the appointment of a Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) nominee on the BCCI board amounted to government interference in its affairs.

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