Could Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar have become the Board of Control for Cricket in India president had his predecessor, Jagmohan Dalmiya, not given his individual vote and a casting vote as chairman of the board's annual general meeting in favour of his nominee Ranbir Singh Mahendra?
The question could the BCCI president have the right to cast two votes was debated in the Supreme Court on Thursday during arguments over the board's appeal challenging a Madras high court order on the election controversy.
A Bench comprising Justice N Santosh Hegde and Justice S B Sinha reserved its verdict on the appeal, but said it would look into the BCCI rules before giving the verdict.
Earlier, senior advocate Fali S Nariman, appearing for Maharashtra Cricket Association, and senior advocate Harish Salve, appearing for Netaji Cricket Club (Chennai), citing the "unsavoury scenes" at the Kolkata AGM on September 29-30, suggested a fresh poll under the supervision of a court-appointed person.
BCCI counsel senior advocate A M Singhvi said that the board rules permitted the chairman to vote in the AGM like other members and also have a casting vote in case of a tie between the contestants.
"Dalmiya has done nothing wrong. On the other hand, he has gone by the rulebook," he said.
Appearing for the NCC, on whose petition the HC had appointed an administrator for conducting the elections, Salve said, "The entire election process and the way Dalmiya acted by first casting his vote like a member and then as a chairman, has given an unsavoury taste to the entire event."
He said the court should appoint somebody conversant with law and direct fresh elections while restraining the continuing board headed by Dalmiya from finalising any commercial contract.
Singhvi replied that the NCC itself had moved an application before the SC seeking to restrain the newly elected board headed by Mahendra from assuming charge and now it wanted the old board also not to function. "What do they want, the cricket board should be left unattended?" he asked.
Nariman said the only reason why Dalmiya adjourned the AGM was to perpetuate himself as the president as a Chennai court had restrained the AGM from taking up two issues -- one pertaining to his appointment as the board's patron-in-chief and the second relating to his nomination as the board's representative to the International Cricket Council.
Singhvi said this argument had no basis as under the BCCI rules Dalmiya could have simply adjourned the AGM on the basis of the court orders and still have continued as the president without having to go through the election process.
"He wants to step down immediately if the Supreme Court passes an order allowing conclusion of the AGM," he said.