'If conflict of interest has to go, it will go. BCCI rules are not sacrosanct for us'
'If the BCCI president would not own a team it would not lead to collapse of the entire IPL project'
The Supreme Court on Tuesday asked the Board of Control for Cricket in India to place before it a list of administrators and players having various commercial interests, including in the Indian Premier League and Champions League.
The court sought the information when the BCCI commenced its arguments to defend the controversial amendments in its rules to do away with the conflict of interest in allowing persons with multiple hats to work as a game administrator and own a team in the IPL and Champions league.
Before deciding to peruse the list, a bench comprising Justices T S Thakur and F M I Kalifulla observed: "Heavens won't fall if BCCI officials do not own teams.
“If the BCCI president would not own a team it would not lead to collapse of the entire IPL project and was it that it was not possible that without commercial interest IPL can't take off," the bench said, adding that "the IPL also does not depend on the format that administrator with commercial interest can own a team".
“Give us the list of all contracts you (BCCI) have entered with administrators and others who have other commercial interests. What kind of contract you have entered into and with whom.
"Which of these administrators will suffer if the contracts are considered to be in commercial interest," the bench said, while putting several questions that are likely to arise vis-a-vis conflict of interest issue.
The bench made the remarks after it was disatisfied with the answer of BCCI's counsel, C A Sundaram, that "people who wanted to own a team would not have come forward" if the rules without amendments were to continue.
Senior advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for BCCI president-in-exile Narayanswami Srinivasan said: "Owing a team per se is not a conflict of interest."
The apex court is examining the validity of controversial amendment 6.2.4 in the BCCI rules which enables office-bearers to own teams in the IPL and Champions League amidst raging debate over the conflict of interest issue.
The bench said it would like to go through the list of such persons as there have been submissions that there are people who are wearing different hats and are involved in the game's administration along with their commercial interests -- being commentators or association with IPL teams.
It asked the BCCI to explain the background under which the controversial amendment was brought in the rules, as there should be a justification that it was done in the larger interest of the public and that the Board has not faltered to maintain the purity of the game.
"Whether you are a state or society, people in the country and world see your game on the assumption that it is played in a fair manner. That assumption is critical that if the game is unfair then nobody would follow. You have to show that the game is played in a fair manner and you have not faltered in that.
"If conflict of interest has to go, it will go. BCCI rules are not sacrosanct for us," the bench said.
It wanted to know whether apart from Chennai Super Kings, "is there any other team that is run by an administrator?"
During the hearing, the bench asked, "How did the issue of 6.2.4 come up? Did somebody mention it?"
The bench was told that the amendment was made on September 27, 2008 at the BCCI's working committee meeting after recommendations were made by its two-member committee and Srinivasan, who was treasurer, was elected as its secretary.
The Cricket Association of Bihar (CAB), through its secretary, Aditya Verma, has challenged the relaxation in the BCCI rules. He has also raised the issue of conflict of interest against Srinivasan, alleging that he is the Managing Director of the company, Indian Cements Ltd, which owns the Chennai Super Kings in the IPL.
The bench has said it has to be examined whether in principle or ethically or morally such a type of provision can be permitted or not.