Sourav Ganguly and Jay Shah can continue as president and secretary of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) with the Supreme Court on Wednesday waiving off the Justice RM Lodha Committee-mandated three-year “cooling-off” period for all office-bearers who had served two consecutive terms of three years each at the national body and any State association.
The ruling by the bench of Justice D.Y. Chandrachud and Justice Hima Kohli will ensure Sourav and Shah can remain in their posts for six years from the date they assumed charge — October 23, 2019. Their cooling-off period will begin only after that. Under the Lodha panel norms, Sourav’s and Shah’s tenures as president and secretary had technically ended in June and July 2020 because of their earlier cumulative stints in the Cricket Association of Bengal and Gujarat Cricket Association, respectively, and thereafter in the BCCI.
But the duo continued on an ad hoc basis pending a decision of the Board’s earlier application in the apex court for approving the amended constitution which sought to waive off the three-year cooling-off period fixed by the Lodha committee and approved by the top court in 2016.
The bench of Justice Chandrachud and Justice Kohli on Wednesday modified the 2016 directions to the extent that now all BCCI office-bearers can hold office for two consecutive terms of three years each, even if they had served earlier for three years in some State association.
In other words, the earlier direction that the cooling-off period would kick in after a combined tenure of six years put in the BCCI and a State association would no longer apply. However, the bench, instead of restricting the amended rules as sought by the BCCI only to the president and secretary, said they would now apply across the board as suggested by the amicus curiae and senior advocate Maninder Singh.
Singh’s suggestions in this regard were endorsed by solicitor-general Tushar Mehta, appearing for the BCCI. Terming the earlier provision with regard to the cooling off-period as being “stringent,” Justice Chandrachud, heading the bench, said the court agreed with the views of the solicitor-general that it should be waived off by not reckoning the earlier threeyear stint put in by BCCI office-bearers in the State associations.
“We are of the view that the proposed amendment would not dilute the spirit and object for the cooling-off period, if implemented after an individual has completed two terms at either BCCI or State associations. We therefore accept the amendment,” Justice Chandrachud said while dictating the order. The bench passed the order through a special hearing that extended up to 4.40pm as against the court’s regular hearing time which concludes at 4pm.
Some reports suggested that the office-bearers would now have a total 12-year stint before entering the three-year cooling-off period. However, sources clarified that technically the maximum tenure a person can now put in at the BCCI and State association is nine years.
In other words, if Sourav had served for three years in the State association, he can enjoy a stint of six years in the BCCI. According to the amended rules of the BCCI which have now been given the green light by the apex court: “A President or Secretary who has served in such position for two consecutive terms in the BCCI shall not be eligible to contest any further election without completing a cooling off period of three years. During the cooling off period, such ‘Office bearer’ shall not be a member of the Governing Councilor of any committee whatsoever of the BCCI. The expression ‘President’ or ‘Secretary’ should not be permitted to be circumvented by being a member of any other committee or of the Governing Council in BCCI as the case may be.” The ruling would now apply to all BCCI office bearers.