Rajiv Shukla failed to read the googly bowled by the Board of Control for Cricket in India's (BCCI) Committee of Administrators (CoA). On Monday, he reached the venue of Indian Premier League (IPL) auctions in Bengaluru without even bothering to protect himself with the necessary safeguards.
Having been disqualified serving Uttar Pradesh Cricket Association (UPCA) as secretary for more than nine years, Shukla hardly had a choice. All he had to do was file the compliance affidavit in the Supreme Court (SC) from his home state, and follow it up by serving the cooling-off period of three years as necessitated by the Justice Lodha panel.
Instead, he followed the footsteps of his former boss N Srinivasan and reached the IPL auctions in complete violation of SC orders.
When asked if he has committed contempt of the highest court and he takes refuge under the January 3, 2017, modified orders of the Court. "Please read the January 3 orders carefully, which were modified by the SC," Shukla told DNA, adding: "I've not completed nine years in BCCI, so I still have time to serve my term."
What about the compliance letter and cooling-off period? No answer except a reiteration of his earlier line.
However, the top brass in BCCI as well as the Justice Lodha panel have no doubt that "Shukla is guilty of violating SC orders". So, why was he not stopped at the entry of the auctions?
The answer again is that the email sent out by CoA on the eve of auctions had clearly mentioned that "in respect of other members of the IPL GC (Governing Council), only those persons who are not disqualified in terms of the strict understanding/ interpretation of the disqualifications in terms of the various orders issued by the Hon'ble Supreme Court may attend the IPL Player Auctions" and thus needed no clarification.
Despite knowing it well, Shukla reached the venue after auctions commenced. It is quite another matter that he had "no work" to do there and he even chose to "not address the press conference at the end".
A top BCCI official told DNA that when Shukla was asked if he is willing to address the media after auctions as he had already done during his earlier tenure, he refused to do so for "unnecessarily inviting media attention".
Shukla was not the only one to have committed contempt of court. Even Mumbai Cricket Association's joint secretary Dr PV Shetty violated the SC orders.
"By entering the venue of IPL auctions, Shukla and Shetty have kind of given an undertaking that they are not disqualified. CoA mail's point No. 3 has clearly stated that 'should they attend the IPL Player Auctions, the concerned members would be deemed to have undertaken and represented that they are not disqualified as aforesaid'," replied BCCI official, when asked why the disqualified former BCCI members were not stopped from entering the venue.
However, a source in the Justice Lodha committee described Shukla's step as a "well thought of plan".
"Look, all former BCCI officials are hell-bent on disobeying the SC orders. During the course of the entire trial, former president Srinivasan continued to attend more than a dozen BCCI meetings despite being barred by the Bench during the time the case was being heard. It was only when contempt proceedings were about to be initiated that his counsel saved his client by offering 'unconditional apology' and saved him," recalled the source.
Shukla has thus chosen to tread the path of his former boss. Having stood disqualified after July 18 orders, he continued to side with Anurag Thakur and company to defy SC orders till January 2 or 3 when Thakur and Ajay Shirke were finally removed by the court.
Shukla is clearly trying to take advantage of his ignorance. But the BCCI is clear that "his violation would be brought to the notice of SC in its compliance report which is mandated to be filed within four weeks after January 3."
CoA has already asked experienced Hemang Amin, who has been associated with IPL since 2010, to take charge of all necessary arrangements for the functioning of the IPL.
Courtesy: Daily News and Analysis (DNA)