The Supreme Court on Wednesday allowed the amendments proposed in the BCCI's Constitution by which its president Sourav Ganguly and secretary Jay Shah can retain their respective positions without having to serve the mandatory three-year cooling off period.
The Board of Cricket Control of India in its proposed amendments had sought relaxation of the cooling off period for its office bearers which will enable Ganguly and Shah to continue in office for a second three-year term beyond September 30, 2022. Ganguly, a former India Captain, and Shah have held the top positions in the BCCI since October 2019.
A bench of Justices DY Chandrachud and Hima Kohli held that an office bearer can have continuous tenure of 12 years which could include six years in state association and six years in the BCCI before the three-year cooling off period comes to play.
The top court also modified a clause with respect to the bar on the ministers, public servants or persons holding public offices from contesting BCCI elections and removed "persons holding public offices" from the ambit of disqualification.
"Having considered the application, we are of the considered view that the proposed amendments should be accepted", the bench said, while noting that Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the BCCI, has submitted that the amendments suggested by the amicus curiae is acceptable to BCCI.
According to the Constitution adopted by the BCCI, an office bearer had to undergo a three-year cooling off period between two consecutive terms in either the state association or the BCCI or both combined. Before his appointment to the BCCI, Ganguly had served as president of the Cricket Association of Bengal (CAB) in 2014, while Jay Shah was an office bearer in Gujarat Cricket Association since 2013.
"The purpose of the cooling off period is not to create undesirable monopolies in the administration of cricket", the bench said, adding it has provided cooling off period at two levels--one after the end of two consecutive terms at any level and another after completing 12 consecutive years in State and BCCI combine.
While there was no immediate reaction from Ganguly and Shah, those tracking the developments said some changes in the BCCI hierarchy can't be ruled out, but in which form or shape isn't clear.
The top court noted the submission of Mehta that under the existing clauses an office bearer, who goes on to serve in the BCCI after serving a state association, will have to undergo a mandatory three-year cooling off period, which is very short to execute his plans.
"Three years is very less for an office bearer to execute his vision or plan and therefore there is need for two consecutive terms to be given for proper execution of work", Mehta said.
The bench noted that an unanimous view has been taken by three-fourth majority at the Annual General Meeting of BCCI and they have proposed amendments in the Constitution requiring cooling off period for the post of president and secretary.
Amicus curiae Maninder Singh said the requirement of cooling off period should not be limited to only president and secretary of the BCCI but to all the office bearers and also not only be applicable to the apex cricket body but to all the state cricket associations.
The bench also noted the submission that the application of the cooling off period as per existing clauses in which a person has to undergo cooling off period after serving one term is "unduly stringent and needs to be modified with regard to the purpose of the cooling off period".
"Keeping in view the reasons and objective for which cooling off period was introduced; we are of the considered view that the proposed amendment would not dilute the objective. We, therefore, accept the proposed amendments as it does not detract from the initial object and purpose of the judgement of this court", it said.
The top court's order came on the BCCI's plea seeking to amend its Constitution concerning the tenure of its office bearers including Ganguly and Shah by doing away with the mandatory cooling off period between tenures of office bearers across state cricket associations and the cricket board.
Earlier, the Justice Rajendra Mal Lodha-led committee had recommended reforms in the BCCI which have been accepted by the top court.
The constitution of the BCCI, which was earlier approved by the top court, stipulates a mandatory three-year cooling-off period for anyone who had served two consecutive terms of three years each in the state cricket association or the BCCI.
While Ganguly was an office bearer in the Cricket Association of Bengal, Shah had served in the Gujarat Cricket Association.
The court also modified several other consequential amendments apart from the one which relates to disqualifying an office bearer of BCCI or state cricket association, who has been charged in any criminal offence. It said a person will be disqualified, if he is convicted for any criminal offence and sentenced for a jail term, noting there may be a case of frivolous prosecution of an office bearer.