The Supreme Court was told that the Lodha committee's recommendation on "one-state, one-vote" in the BCCI would lead to "enormous politics" and pressure within the board.
The submission made by Baroda Cricket Association to this effect prompted the bench, comprising Chief Justice TS Thakur and Justice Ibrahim Kalifulla, to ask senior advocate Kapil Sibal for more elaboration as to how this recommendation would "generate" more politics in the working of the BCCI.
"Can you elaborate what the politics will be," the bench asked Sibal, who was appearing for Baroda Cricket Association and arguing against the implementation of the recommendation for one-state, one-vote in the BCCI.
"You know everything," the senior advocate responded, and the bench, in a lighter vein, said: "That is the area in which you also flourish."
"Reality is, there would be enormous pressure irrespective of who is standing in the elections," Sibal said.
The implementation of the one-state, one-vote policy has relevance as Maharashtra and Gujarat, which have four and three cricket associations respectively as permanent members, would be left with only one permanent member each in the BCCI. The new permanent members will instead come from smaller cricket-playing states like Manipur and Mizoram.
Sibal contended that there is no rationale in correlating cricketing activities, geographical boundaries and population. "We will be generating enormous politics in the system which is prevailing," he said.
The bench said: "You are right. Seven votes will come to northeast where there is no cricket, that we know. But we don't know the game of seven votes. Can you elaborate what the politics will be?"
Besides the Maharashtra Cricket Association, the other three cricket boards in the state with full membership are Cricket Club of India, Mumbai Cricket Association and Vidharbha Cricket Association. In Gujarat, besides Gujarat Cricket Association, the other two are Baroda Cricket Association (BCA) and Saurashtra Cricket Association.
Sibal said the BCA was against the one-state, one-vote policy as, by this recommendation, the entire structure and function of the BCCI and other state cricket associations was sought to be changed, which went against the essence of article 19(1)(c) of the constitution of India.
He commenced his submissions by saying that the rights under article 19(1)(c) - the right to form an association, the right to autonomy, the right to remove membership etc - are protected, and as long as these rights are not interfered with, there is no problem.
However, the bench said an association cannot take shelter under the fundamental rights as it is not a citizen. "Have you come as an individual citizen or an association? Association is not a citizen. No rights of citizens have been affected. Whose rights as citizens have been affected?" the bench asked, as Sibal contended that if all the recommendations of Lodha committee were part of a legislative act, it would have been struck down.
"All the rules which apply to the BCCI will apply to me also," Sibal said, asserting: "Parliament can't pass a law. It is completely in the state list." His response was to the court's observation made during the last hearing, that the public functions of BCCI can be taken over by the government with the enactment of a law in parliament.
The bench also asked what prevents the BCCI from saying that if any state association want to be associated with it, the respective body has to fall in line with the Lodha committee recommendations.
Referring to the recommendations, the bench said, "The whole exercise is for holistic purpose. The holistic basis and the background in which the whole exercise was carried out was with a view to streamline and remove all shortcomings and malpractices that people perceive about the BCCI.
"The issue has to be seen from larger perspective that structural reform is important and it is held that one-state, one-vote will bring transparency. If you want to reform the system, you have to reform it, and that is why recommendations have been made by the Lodha committee."
However, Sibal - who said the association never doubted the wisdom of the Lodha committee - asked why Baroda, which has contributed a lot to the game over the years, should be deprived of full membership and the rights to vote and participate in the decision making in the BCCI.
"But I am deprived of the vote and Manipur and some other states will have that right - those states which do not have cricketing activity will have the voting right," he said, adding, "First, my right of full membership will be taken away. Second, my right to vote will be taken away. Why?"
The bench responded: "The BCCI has not decided anything against you. The BCCI and you are on the same boat. Both of you are... taking the same position. We have given time to the BCCI to look into the recommendation. We have given enough time to the BCCI to respond to the Lodha committee recommendation.
"The best way for the BCCI to overcome all the shortcomings should be in a transparent manner. We are not asking you to change your constitution. When we see the stand of the BCCI, then we can see how your association can be moulded."
Referring to the Lodha Committee's recommendation that there should be CEOs for the associations, which was opposed by the Baroda Cricket Association, the bench asked: "Why should you not have a CEO?"
The senior advocate said: "That is a direct infringement of Article 19(1)(c) of the constitution."
The bench said, "If you and we are concerned with the private body and not in any way concerned with the public function, you may be right. You must remember when we are trying to reform BCCI, it is because it is performing a public function.
"The whole idea is that of purely reform, and the Lodha committee recommendation is also aimed at bringing in transparency, objectivity and removing shortcomings."
Sibal supported his submissions by arguing that even the private insurance companies were doing public functions, but the court cannot interfere in their administration and functioning.
"What is the public purpose served in depriving me of full membership? What is the public purpose served [by] depriving me of the right to vote? What is the public good sought to be achieved with this process? What is the public function sought to be performed by private body? You give somebody a full membership but don't deprive me of my rights," he said.
He also said he did not favour the idea of the apex court for "rotational membership" for full members saying, "I can't be a part of the decision making, so am not in favour of rotational policy. I shall never canvass for rotational policy."
When the bench asked was there any known mechanism of distribution of the board's money, he said permanent members equally share the money while associate members get Rs 50 lakh each.
The next hearing in this case is scheduled for April 25.