BCCI president Anurag Thakur and secretary Ajay Shirke have been removed from their posts by the Supreme Court of India in an order passed in Delhi on Monday morning. The court order was a culmination of a long-standing impasse between the BCCI and the Lodha Committee: the board had resisted implementing some of the committee's recommendations despite their being part of the July 18, 2016 order by the Supreme Court.
The court said a committee of administrators will be appointed on January 19 to oversee the business operations of the BCCI. The composition of the committee will be finalised by a pair of amicus curiae Gopal Subramanium and Indian constitutional jurist Fali S Nariman.
According to the court, the most senior BCCI vice-president will take over as interim president while the joint-secretary Amitabh Choudhary will be the interim secretary. The court said the replacements will have to give an undertaking that they will adhere to the July 18 court order, which approved the majority of Lodha Committee recommendations.
At the previous hearing on December 15, before breaking for the winter holidays, the court had reserved its order in response to the Lodha Committee's status report, which recommended that all ineligible BCCI office bearers be removed and an observer be appointed to oversee the board's operations.
On Monday, the three-judge bench comprising Chief Justice of India TS Thakur, and Justices AM Khanwilkar and DY Chandrachud, approved the Lodha Committee's view of the BCCI's office bearers. Justice Chandrachud said all office bearers who did not fulfil the recommendations will "demit and cease to hold office".
According to the existing BCCI constitution, the office bearers are the president, secretary, joint-secretary, treasurer and five vice-presidents. While listing out eligibility criteria, the Lodha Committee had stated that an office bearer would be disqualified if he or she was not a citizen of India, was 70 years or older, was a minister or a government servant, held any office or post in any other sports association, or had been an office bearer of the BCCI for a cumulative period of nine years.
"This is the logical consequence. Once the recommendations were accepted by the court, it had to be implemented," former Chief Justice of India RM Lodha, the chairman of the Lodha Committee, said after the court order on January 2. "There were obstructions, there were impediments ... obviously this had to happen, and it has happened. The Supreme Court itself has ensured that its order of 18 July is now enforced.
"It's a victory for the game of cricket and it will flourish. Administrators come and go, ultimately it is for the game."
Anurag Thakur said in a statement on Twitter that he had been fighting for the autonomy of the BCCI and not a personal battle. "I had the honour of serving Indian cricket," he said. "Over the years, Indian cricket saw its very best in terms of administration and development of the game. BCCI is the best-managed sports organisation in the country, with defined procedures. India has the best cricket infrastructure, built and maintained by the state associations with the help of BCCI. India has more quality players than anywhere in the world.
"For me, it was not a personal battle, it was a battle for the autonomy of the sports body. I respect Supreme Court as any citizen should. Supreme Court judges feel that BCCI could do better under retired judges, I wish them all the best. I'm sure Indian cricket will do well under their guidance. My commitment to the best of Indian cricket and autonomy of sports will always remain."
Shirke said he wasn't too concerned by the development. "If I am removed, there is absolutely no issue. I will go back to my work," he told CNN News from the UK. "The enforcement of the order is not in my individual control. The members decide. It is the members' board. They have accepted many recommendations. Now that the Supreme Court has settled the matter, let the new dispensation carry on the good new work."
The court also sought explanation from Thakur as to why there perjury and contempt-of-court proceedings should not be carried out against him. The issue of perjury arose because Thakur, in an affidavit, had denied that he sought a letter from the ICC stating that the Lodha Committee's recommendation to have a member of the Comptroller and Auditor General's office on the apex council of the BCCI amounted to government interference in the board. The ICC does not permit government interference in the administration of its Full Members. Thakur's request had been revealed by ICC chief executive David Richardson in an interview to an Indian TV channel.
The ICC chairman Shashank Manohar contradicted Thakur and told the Lodha Committee the BCCI president had asked him for a letter.
The Lodha Committee was formed in January 2015 to determine appropriate punishments for some of the officials involved in the 2013 IPL corruption scandal, and also to propose changes to streamline the BCCI, reform its functioning, prevent sporting fraud and conflict of interest.
In January 2016, the committee released its report, which recommended an exhaustive overhaul of the BCCI's governance and administrative structures. On July 18, the Supreme Court approved the majority of the recommendations and directed the Lodha Committee to supervise the BCCI's implementations of the same. However, despite the Lodha Committee laying out timelines and other directives, the board had not cooperated because its state associations objected to the recommendations.