The Supreme Court on Monday said that the BCCI was free to decide whether its former president N. Srinivasan was still in a conflict of interest situation and thus be barred from attending its working committee meetings as it refused to issue any clarification on developments that took place post its January 22 judgment. The apex court had barred Srinivasan from attending working committee meetings of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) in its January ruling since it felt that his dual role as co-owner of Indian Premier League (IPL) franchise Chennai Super Kings (CSK) and board chief gave rise to a situation of conflict of interest.
“On the day we pronounced the judgment, he (Srinivasan) was in conflict of interest. You (BCCI) will have to take a view on whatever happened after that,” said a bench of Justice T.S. Thakur and Justice Fakkir Mohamed Ibrahim Kalifulla.
“You are free to stick to that (view) and you stick to that. We are not saying you are wrong. We are also not saying you are right,” they added. Noting that most of the points resized by the BCCI were post its January 22 verdict, the court said: “Do you want an advance approval of your view (that Srinivasan continues to be in conflict of interest). We are not concerned with it.” The apex court bench in their January judgment had held that,”no one who has any commercial interest in the BCCI events (including Srinivasan) shall be eligible for contesting the elections for any post whatsoever.”
While refusing to issue any clarification on the plea by the BCCI on the status of Srinivasan, the bench however, said that if the 70-year-old was aggrieved by any of the board’s views, he could raise it before an appropriate court. The January ruling had forced the BCCI to postpone its Annual General Meeting (AGM) which was scheduled to be held on September 27 in Kolkata as several officials objected to Srinivasan’s presence as the chief of the Tamil Nadu Cricket Association (TNCA). That had prompted the BCCI to seek the Supreme Court’s clarification on the issue, contending that the Srinivasan was still ineligible to attend its meetings on account of the conflict of interest. Describing the application for clarification by the BCCI on as “misconceived”, the court said, “We don’t see any need for man clarification as it (the judgment of January 22) is self-explanatory and does not suffer from any ambiguity.” Appearing for the BCCI, senior counsel K.K. Venugopal told the court that “restructuring” India Cement’s control of the Chennai Supper Kings and the formation of a new company named CSK Ltd and its subsequent transfer to a trust was a “sham transaction” and Srinivasan continued to be in a situation of conflict of interest. “Srinivasan continues to be subject of disqualification on account of his continued state of conflict of interest”, Venugopal asserted.
BJP Leader Subramanian Swamy, who appeared as an intervener espousing public interest of millions of cricket lovers and telling the court that the two-year ban on the CSK by the Supreme Court appointed Justice R.M. Lodha committee was “arbitrary and reckless” found himself on the receiving end of the court’s ire. “Mr. Swamy you can’t be more loyal to Srinivasan than he himself is,” Justice Thakur observed as Swamy addressed the court assailing the ban on CSK saying that there was nothing against its players. The apex court pointed out that the CSK is not a party before it as Swamy told the court that he was appearing before it on the behalf of the IPL outfit and its fans. “I value your contribution. But why were you so late in coming,” Justice Thakur told Swamy as he sought to clarify: “I am not for Srinivasan and I am upholding the cause of millions of cricket fans.”