3 Jan, New Delhi: India’s Supreme Court on Monday ordered the removal of two of the country’s most powerful cricket administrators for failing to introduce reforms, and said it would appoint its own committee to carry out the recommended changes.
In a ruling that was described by one former chief justice as a “victory for the game of cricket,” the Supreme Court fired the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) president Anurag Thakur and BCCI secretary Ajay Shirke and vowed to axe any other officials who refused to adhere to the court’s orders.
The court said it would appoint a new committee later this month to run the BCCI’s business operations and that officials would have to provide an undertaking that they would carry through the reforms recommended by former chief justice RM Lodha or “cease to be office bearers.”
Lodha was appointed in early 2015 to head up a committee to reform the running of Indian cricket in the wake of the Indian Premier League (IPL) corruption scandal.
The committee later made a number of wide-sweeping recommendations, including a ruling that each of the country’s states get just one vote in the BCCI, that a maximum age limit of 70 be introduced for cricket administrators and that any government ministers and bureaucrats be kept out of cricket administration.
However, the BCCI did not carry out all the reforms, despite an order from the Supreme Court in July last year that the BCCI was obliged to make the recommended changes, culminating in Monday’s court order to remove the top officials.
“If the BCCI was reluctant to accept the Supreme Court’s July order, these consequences were bound to follow,” Lodha said in an interview with the New Delhi Television news channel after Monday’s court decision.
“I am sure that the game of cricket will be governed as well as ever. The Supreme Court order should work as a template for other sports organizations too. The majesty of law has worked.”
Thakur in a statement said he respected the Supreme Court verdict.
“If the Supreme Court judges feel that the BCCI could do better under retired judges, I wish them all the best,” Thakur said.
He also said it was not a personal battle with the top court: “It was a battle for autonomy of a sports body.”
His deputy Shirke said: “There was no issue. I will go.”
With India’s growing economy, and billions of dollars flowing in from sponsorships, India’s cricket board is one of the most powerful in the international game. AP