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In a much awaited judgment, the Supreme Court today ruled that the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) is not “State” within the definition of Article 12 of the Constitution of India. It, however, held that the BCCI is amenable to writ jurisdiction under Article 226 of the Constitution on the ground that it discharges public functions.
The ruling came in the IPL spot fixing scandal which had rocked Indian cricket in 2013.
The judgment running to 138 pages was delivered at 2.30 pm by Justices TS Thakur, FMI Kalifulla and the pronouncement lasted for more than an hour.
With regard to the question of the legal status of BCCI, the Court, relying on the case of Zee Telefilms Ltd. v. Union of India, held the following:
“The functions of the Board are clearly public functions, which, till such time the State intervenes to takeover the same, remain in the nature of public functions, no matter discharged by a society registered under the Registration of Societies Act. Suffice it to say that if the Government not only allows an autonomous/private body to discharge functions which it could in law takeover or regulate but even lends its assistance to such a nongovernment body to undertake such functions which by their very nature are public functions, it cannot be said that the functions are not public functions or that the entity discharging the same is not answerable on the standards generally applicable to judicial review of State action….
BCCI may not be State under Article 12 of the Constitution but is certainly amenable to writ jurisdiction under Article 226 of the Constitution of India.”
The Court found Gurunath Meiyappan and Raj Kundra guilty of betting but absolved former BCCI President N Srinivasan of covering up the same. Regarding Meiyappan and Kundra and the fate of the two IPL franchises, CSK and Rajasthan Royals, the Court refrained from prescribing punishment. Instead, it has formed a three member Committee headed by former Chief Justice of India RM Lodha and Justices Ashok Bhan and RV Raveendran to decide on the quantum of punishment.
However, it held that there is conflict of interest in Srinivasan holding the post of BCCI President while having commercial interests in BCCI events. It, therefore, barred him from contesting the BCCI elections till he continues to hold such commercial interests or till the Committee awards punishment.
Directing that BCCI could hold its elections, the Court ruled the following:
“The constitution of the Committee or its deliberations shall not affect the ensuing elections which the BCCI shall hold within six weeks from the date of this order in accordance with the prevalent rules and regulations subject to the condition that no one who has any commercial interest in the BCCI events (including Mr. N. Srinivasan) shall be eligible for contesting the elections for any post whatsoever. We make it clear that the disqualification for contesting elections applicable to those who are holding any commercial interest in BCCI events shall hold good and continue till such time the person concerned holds such commercial interest or till the Committee considers and awards suitable punishment to those liable for the same; whichever is later.”
Further, the Court also struck down the amendment to Rule 6.2.4 of the BCCI Regulations which permitted creation of commercial interests in the events organized by BCCI by its Administrators. This was on the ground of conflict of interest and public policy. The Court held that,
“This enabling provision disregards the potential conflict of interest which will arise between an administrator’s duty as a functionary of the BCCI on the one hand and his interest as the holder of any such commercial interest on the other…
Rule 6.2.4 to the extent, it permits, protects and even perpetuates situations where the Administrators can have commercial interests in breach or conflict with the duty they owe to the BCCI or to the people at large must be held to be against public policy, hence, illegal.”
The following lawyers appeared before the Supreme Court in the case:
Jaipur IPL Cricket Private Limited was advised by a team from Economic Laws Practice.
Read the full judgment below.