BCCI vs Lodha Panel: SC chokes fund transfer to state associations; asks for independent auditor

New Delhi: Tightening its noose around the embattled BCCI, the Supreme Court on Friday choked funds to the state associations till its top boss Anurag Thakur and the units "undertake to implement" the Lodha committee recommendations on reforms.

The apex court, in a slew of directions, sought appointment of an "independent auditor" to "scrutinise and audit" the income and expenditure of the cash-rich body besides going into high-value contracts awarded to various entities awarded by it.

 BCCI vs Lodha Panel: SC chokes fund transfer to state associations; asks for independent auditor

BCCI president Anurag Thakur. AFP file image

"BCCI shall forthwith cease and desist from making any disbursement of funds for any purpose whatsoever to any state association until and unless the state association concerned adopts a resolution undertaking to implement recommendations of the Committee as accepted by this Court in its judgement dated 18 July 2016.

"After such a resolution is passed and before any disbursement of funds takes place to the state association concerned, a copy of the resolution shall be filed before the Committee and before this Court, together with an affidavit of the President of the state association undertaking to abide by the reforms contained in the report of the Committee, as modified by this Court," a bench comprising Chief Justice T S Thakur and Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud said.

The bench said that any transfer of funds "shall take place to the state associations" only after they accept terms and comply with them.

The bench directed Thakur and BCCI Secratary Ajay Shirke to file separate "affidavits of compliance" before the court on or before 3 December, 2016 in terms of the earlier order.

Vesting the right to appoint "independent auditor" on the Lodha panel, the court  said the auditor would "scrutinise and audit the income received and expenditure incurred by the BCCI" and "shall also oversee the tendering process that will hereinafter be undertaken by BCCI, as well as the award of contracts above a threshold value to be fixed by the Committee."

The prior approval of the Lodha panel would be required for any award of any contract, it said adding "the award of contracts by BCCI above the threshold fixed by the Committee shall be subject to approval of the Committee." The bench, in its 21-page order, said that the Lodha panel would be at liberty to obtain advice of auditors on the "fairness of the tendering process which has been adopted by BCCI and in regard to all relevant facts and circumstances.

"The Committee will determine whether a proposed contract above the threshold value should or should not be approved," it said, adding "the Committee will be at liberty to formulate the terms of engagement and reference to the auditors having regard to the above directions."

The bench further clarified that the cricket body would "defray the costs, charges and expenses of the auditors".

The court gave two weeks time to the BCCI President and the Secretary to file affidavits indicating compliance made by the cricket body of those recommendations of the panel which have been complied with.

They will have to indicate about the "manner of compliance and the steps adopted for securing compliance with the remaining recommendations".

"They (Thakur and Shirke) shall appear before the Committee to explain the manner of compliance. The President and Secretary, BCCI shall also keep the Committee apprised about the steps taken pursuant to the statement recorded by them."

Senior advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for BCCI, said that in respect of some of the recommendations, where state associations have not agreed to implement, BCCI will make a genuine endeavour to persuade the state associations to ensure compliance.

"Though BCCI is in default and breach of the directions of this Court, in order to enable it to have an additional opportunity to establish its bona fides and to secure compliance with the judgement of this Court dated 18 July, 2016, we grant time until 3 December 2016 for the purpose," the bench said.

Besides complying with directions set out and appearing before the Lodha panel, BCCI shall report compliance before this court on 5 December, the bench ordered. Dealing with the controversy as to whether appointment of a CAG nominee in the apex committee of BCCI would amount to governmental interference, the court said the Secretary of the Lodha panel "shall forward a copy of this order to Shashank Manohar, Chairman ICC to facilitate observations contained in ...this order".

"Prima facie, an effort has been made by the President of BCCI to create a record in order to question the legitimacy of the recommendation of the Committee for the appointment of a CAG nominee after the recommendation was accepted by this Court on 18 July 2016," it said.

However, the court for the time being deferred "consideration of the action to be taken with reference to his conduct".

"(Ratnakar) Shetty (GM Cricket Administration) in his response to status report claims that the CEO of ICC had 'falsely' stated in his interview that the President of BCCI had requested ICC to issue a letter stating that intervention of this court amounted to governmental interference.

"The version of Shetty is at variance to what is alleged to have been stated by the CEO of ICC. It may also become necessary for this court to assess the veracity of the version of Shetty and that of Richardson. Shashank Manohar, the then President of BCCI is presently the Chairman of ICC.

"A copy of this order shall be forwarded to him by the Secretary to the Committee in order to enable him to consider filing a response setting out his version, to set the record straight and assist this court. Manohar is at liberty to obtain a report from Richardson before filing his response," it said.

The bench also asked BCCI to cooperate with the Lodha panel and with the auditors by granting full access to records, accounts and other information as required to facilitate implementation of directions and fixed the matter for further hearing on 5 December.

The apex court, on 17 October, had reserved its order on implementation of the Lodha Committee recommendations for massive structural reforms in the cash-rich sports body. Earlier, the court had asked Thakur and Shetty to explain the allegation that ICC CEO Dave Richardson was asked by BCCI to issue a letter that Lodha panel's directions tantamount to government interference.

The apex court had on 7 October directed Thakur to explain by filing a "personal affidavit", the allegation "whether he had asked the CEO of the ICC to state that the appointment of Justice Lodha Committee was tantamount to government interference in the working of the BCCI".

It had ordered that no further amounts should be disbursed to state associations by BCCI, except where the State Association concerned passes a resolution saying it is agreeable to undertake and support the reforms as proposed and accepted by this Court in letter and spirit.

The apex court had said the 13 State Associations, to whom the payment has already been disbursed, shall not appropriate the amount, except after they have passed a resolution to abide by reforms suggested.

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Updated Date: Oct 21, 2016 21:34:38 IST