How long will apex court deal with cricket?

Veturi Srivatsa

A newsy cricket week! First up, India lost a great opportunity of beating Australia in the Ranch Test. Then the Supreme Court intervened yet again to clear funds for the Dharamsala Test and clarified that a board/state official can happily have a cumulative tenure of 18 years.

Vinod Rai, head of the Committee of Administrators (COA), spoke like Retired Chief Justices Tirath Singh Thakur and Rajendra Mal Lodha, warning the state associations to fall in line, else

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and Shashank Manohar put in his papers as chairman of the International Council (ICC). Finally the Indian team recovered their poise to bowl out the Austrlians on the opening day of the fourth and series deciding last Test at Dharamsala.

India needed eight wickets on the last day of the Ranchi Test and six without that of skipper Steve Smith in the last two sessions. Yet, they just could not find a way to penetrate the doggedness of Shaun Marsh and Peter Handscomb, leaving the series 1-1.

Just as they looked going on a leather hunt after losing the toss for the third time in the series debutant chinaman bowler Kuldeep Yadav tweaked them back into the Test, dismissing Australia for 300 over the weekend.

The apex court at last put an end to all speculation and interpretation on the cumulative tenure of office-bearers of state and board officials by clarifying that it is indeed 18 years, nine plus nine to be precise, thus amending its order of January 3 and also correcting Rai, who insisted a couple of days earlier that it was only nine years in all.

But there is a catch. Though most of the board office-bearers can return to the board, they will all have to file an affidavit, affirming compliance to the court's July 18 order that accepted the majority of the Lodha Committee recommendations.

In the interim someone, whose association's functioning and accounts are under scrutiny is going to stake claim as president, by virtue of his seniority, in place of Anurag Thakur and Amitabh Chaudhury can return as secretary in place of Ajay Shirke. Thakur and Shirke were removed by the court on January 2 and asked the seniormost vice-president and joint secretary Chaudhury to officiate in their place.

But both the acting chief and secretary will not supersed the COA till the new set-up is put in place after elections as per the Lodha Committee recommendations.

Rai was clear when it came to the state associations. They should amend their constitution as directed by the Supreme Court, failing which they will face the consequences. In other words the associations will be defying the court and face contempt.

Rai is willing to help all those who have problems with their constitutional issues of two-thirds majority to amend their statute.

Some associations have been harping right from the beginning that the new constitution is infringing upon their rights as set by Indian constitution [section 19 (1) (c)] would be violated.

Himachal Association is one such association which said it is bound by the company law Act and only its General Body can change the constitution. But the COA is not impressed on it seeking funds to organize the ongoing Test against Australia without complying with the court order of October of adopting the Lodha Committee recommendations.

COA argued that the Himachal Association has plenty of money to host the Test while the state unit stated that the board is contractually bound to release some Rs 8 crore to it.

The Associations hosting the upcoming Indian Premier League (IPL) matches are also asking the board to release money, reminding the board of the tripartite agreement between the board, franchise and hosting associations.

The unpredictable Sshashank Manohar yet again sprang a surprise on the ICC as well as the board by deciding to quit. Maybe, he wanted to judge the mood of the ICC Board, which overwhelmingly voted him to stay in office till the the governance and financial restructuring process is completed by next month. Even India, which had opposed his distribution model of ICC revenues, has voted in favour of his staying in office.

Most board members were unhappy when he "left them in the lurch" at a time it was fighting the Lodha Committee and now he has decided to quit when his own board is opposing his style of functioning, though he insists he is doing so for personal reasons.

A lot of churning is on both in the Indian board as well as in the ICC and the picture will be clearer in the next couple of months. Till then the courts will be adjudicating on contentious issues, but for how long.

(Veturi Srivatsa is a senior journalist. The views expressed are personal. He can be reached at sveturi@gmail.com)

--IANS

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