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Relief for BCCI, patron waits

New Delhi, Jan. 10: Jagmohan Dalmiya found cause to rejoice in the Supreme Court today upholding the elections to the cricket board but the judges' silence on whether he can be anointed chief patron tempered the joy.

The court's order means that Ranbir Singh, the newly-elected president of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) who is a Dalmiya nominee, and his team of office-bearers can now take charge.

On court directive, an annual general meeting of the board will be held to formalise the change of guard, with Dalmiya stepping down as president. Although he is expected to continue to call the shots after defeating a rival camp led by Sharad Pawar, who had contested against Singh, Dalmiya cannot be officially associated with the board until Madras High Court passes judgment on the legality of his holding the position of chief patron.

A division bench of Justices N. Santosh Hegde and S.B. Sinha in a 57-page judgment said: 'It is not necessary to pass any order' on Dalmiya as chief patron and asked the high court to decide the issue 'as expeditiously as possible'.

It also directed the high court to decide 'all other matters' like the 'manner of voting' by Dalmiya in the elections and his disqualifying some member clubs from voting while allowing some others. Singh, who was tied with Pawar on 15-15, had won on Dalmiya's casting vote as president. He had also disallowed some members from voting in an act that was described as biased by his rivals.

Dalmiya said the court order proves that 'the judiciary in this country is existing and vibrant and the truth has prevailed'.

He said his first priority would be to convene the AGM, which had to be postponed because the election had been challenged, so that the new office-bearers can start functioning. Once the AGM is held, he can get out of the 'uncomfortable position I have held for the last 100 days', he added.

Dalmiya has been holding charge since the elections on September 29 because of the court case.

The outgoing board chief said he would now wait for the high court to issue its verdict on his occupying the post of chief patron.

'I never asked for it or manoeuvred for it. In fact, I tried to be off the scene when it was decided (by the board). But for me it is a great honour. I have held many positions in my life, since I started as treasurer of the Cricket Association of Bengal some 20 years ago, including being president of ICC (world cricket body) but this post of patron-in-chief is a big honour for me,' Dalmiya said.

The judges struck down the appointment of Justice S. Mohan by Madras High Court as interim administrator of the board.

'The purpose for which Mr Justice S. Mohan was appointed has lost its efficacy,' they said.

With the elections being upheld and the new office-bearers set to take charge, Justice Mohan's services will not be required.

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