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Dear Justice Katju, you have burnt the bridges that could have saved the BCCI

Dear Justice Katju,

You must be seething with anger that the Board of Control of Cricket in India (BCCI) ignored your advice and went ahead with its scheduled meeting with the Justice Lodha Committee on 9 August.

After all, the BCCI had appointed you on 2 August as the “single point interface” for the board “to interact with Justice Lodha Committee as well advise and guide the BCCI” (sic). By this official arrangement, you ought to have represented the BCCI in the meetings with the Lodha Committee.

But in your press conference on 7 August, you made it very clear that you would not go to meet the Justice Lodha Committee; you said: “Yes, if Mr Lodha wants to meet me, he can do that. I will never go to meet him. He was a high court judge when I was a Supreme Court judge. I am much senior to him.”

You overlooked the fact that you retired as a mere judge of the Supreme Court whereas Justice Lodha went on to become the Chief Justice of India; in effect, he enjoyed a higher protocol than you.

A file photo of Markandey Katju. PTI

A file photo of Markandey Katju. PTI

But then it was just not a case of your personal ego; you also raised substantive issues regarding the very legitimacy of the Justice Lodha committee report, and by extension, the Supreme Court judgement itself. But your tone and temper were imperious.

You termed the 18 July order of the Supreme Court as ‘unconstitutional’ and ‘illegal’. You said that the apex court had no locus standi to impose its will on a private organisation like the BCCI.

You said that if any case of malfeasance of the BCCI or its officials came to the notice of the court, then the latter had two options – either it could have asked the matter to be disposed of under the provisions of the Tamil Nadu Societies Registration Act (under which the BCCI has been registered); or, more importantly, the court could have sent the matter to Parliament to take action as it deemed fit.

You blasted the Supreme Court for taking upon itself the task of law-making. You said: “The Constitution prescribes separation of powers and the law making is the power of legislature. Here the judiciary is making laws by directing implementation of Lodha Committee recommendations. This is wholly illegal.”

But, then, Justice Katju, you have yourself mentioned in your report that "the cabal that runs BCCI" has an “incenstuous relationship with politicians.” How can you then expect Parliament to act against the BCCI?

Justice Katju, you are a learned man; please recall the famous words of Mark Twain about the American legislature: “It could probably be shown by facts and figures that there is no distinctly native American criminal class except Congress.”

We may not characterise our Parliament in the same sordid way, but it is hard to believe that our leaders are imbecile enough to put an end to the 'incenstuous relationship’ with the BCCI just to uphold a virtuous cause.

Justice Katju, as a legal counsel for the apex cricketing body, you said: “I have recommended to the BCCI to not meet the Lodha panel. I have told them to file the review petition on ground that the very judgement of the Supreme Court was without jurisdiction.”

But, it is obvious that the BCCI officials refused to pay heed to your advice, for they realised that what you were asking them to do (or, not to do) was in contravention of the law; they were scared that they would invite the provisions of the contempt of court if they skipped the scheduled meeting with the Lodha Committee on 9 August.

After all, the board officials are staring in the face the loss of hegemony over the cash-rich cricket body after the SC judgement last month; they did not want to add to their misery by inviting a stint in the jail on the charge of disobeying the court’s instructions. It was hardly surprising that the BCCI secretary not only attended the meeting with the Justice Lodha panel, but also gave assurances to implement the 15 designated recommendations by 15 October itself.

What will happen in the intervening period is a matter of conjecture. But, for the time being, the BCCI, by its action, has caused deep embarrassment for you, Justice Katju. The very first – and the most crucial – advice that you offered publicly has been consigned to the waste basket by your client. That has made your position untenable.

It is not clear if you assumed this position of an advisor to the BCCI purely on a voluntary basis, without any consideration of money. It could be that you were driven by an urge to make a case for judicial restraint as opposed to judicial activism and you found the BCCI verdict as the fit case to take on the apex court; some say you offered your services gratis and the BCCI lapped it up.

The other possibility is that the drowning BCCI officials were ready to clutch at any straw to save themselves and if they saw a potential saviour in a former Supreme Court judge, they did not mind spending even a hundred crore of rupees (which is peanuts for the BCCI), as the outcome of such an intervention is a question of life or death for ‘the cabal that runs the BCCI’.

Justice Katju, whether it is a matter of principle or money or both, for you to take up the current assignment is a matter between you and the BCCI.

However, you must admit that by your intemperate outburst against the Lodha committee and the Supreme Court itself, you have hindered rather than helped the cause of the BCCI. By castigating Chief Justice T S Thakur as a megalomaniac, as someone who was acting like an emperor, if you thought you would be able to intimidate him to accept the review petition, you are possibly grossly mistaken.

BCCI officials must be privately mourning the fact that they engaged you to build bridges with the Supreme Court, but you burnt the very same bridges.

But then they should have known that you are famous (or infamous) for commenting (attacking) in haste and repenting at leisure. Some time ago, you said that “90 percent Indians are idiots” and “80 percent Hindus and 80 percent Muslims are communal.” When three Lucknow students sent you a legal notice for defamation, you turned defensive: “The figure 90 percent is not a mathematical figure, it simply means that in my opinion a large proportion of Indians are fools,” you said. You further clarified that your remark was made to awaken people to the realities of social evils like casteism and communalism.

It is possible that you will again change your tune when a citizen serves a legal notice on you for defaming the highest judiciary of the land. You might come up with an excuse then that you made those harsh statements only to highlight the need for judicial restraint. Or, it is also possible that you may stick to your guns and refuse to yield.

In either case, you would have ruined the prospect of the BCCI officials who engaged you in the first place. That would be a kind of poetic justice.

Thanking you for this spectacular feat.


A lay citizen who wants the BCCI to come under the RTI Act

Updated Date: Aug 12, 2016 12:08 PM

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