Inside Story

Before Big IPL Announcement, Sourav Ganguly, Jay Shah Get Supreme Court Reprieve

Written by Abhishek Patil

This will come as another big relief for Sourav Ganguly and Jay Shah. The Supreme Court, which was scheduled to hear on August 17 the Board of Control for Cricket in India’s appeal to let its president and secretary continue despite the ‘cooling off’ rule, has not even listed the matter.

The BCCI is expected to name the title sponsors of the Indian Premier League on August 18. This after Vivo pulled out from IPL 2020 due to the backlash against Chinese goods. Vivo paid Rs 440 Crores to BCCI for the IPL title sponsorship.

Sources connected with this high-profile case say Ganguly and Shah, who have finished their tenures as BCCI president and secretary respectively, will continue to remain in their positions till the apex court makes a decision. After a brief hearing on July 22, the Supreme Court Bench, consisting of Chief Justice of India Sharad Arvind Bobde and L. Nageswara Rao, had decided to hear the BCCI matter on August 17.

But till Thursday evening, the matter was not listed and with the weekend approaching, it is unlikely to get any priority. The cricket Board is asking for sweeping changes in the new BCCI constitution that was approved by the Supreme Court in August 2018.

The new rule book was drafted after a committee led by former Chief Justice of India RM Lodha had suggested a slew of reforms for better governance and transparency. Age and tenure were among major recommendations.

Among the six changes BCCI wants, the most critical one is on the tenure of Ganguly and Shah.

Both have finished their six-year term (as an office-bearer at a state association or the BCCI or a combination of both). The new constitution requires them to stay away from sports administration for at least three years each.

A senior lawyer said, a two-member Bench cannot overturn the order of a three-member team that had approved the BCCI constitution after as many as 20 judges heard the matter.

“If the Bench allows the amendments, it will be dismissing the wisdom of at least three former Chief Justices. That will not look good on the highest court of the country,” said one of them adding that at best the apex court can “keep putting off the matter” and let BCCI lawyers interpret the law the way they want to.”

Another senior lawyer pointed out that the Bench “may not be very keen” to hear the case and let the matter drag.

Since October 2018, the BCCI mater has come up at least 33 times at Justice Bobde’s court but has been heard only 10 times. With no major verdict given, the Bench’s reluctance to prioritise the matter is clear, say people connected with the proceedings.

Sources say that there could be “external factors” too that hinder judges to act as per law.

Jay Shah is the son of Home Minister Amit Shah and Ganguly was made president after three top BJP ministers played behind-the-scene roles last October when the BCCI elections were held.

About the author

Abhishek Patil