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Supreme Court stays order appointing BCCI administrator

By J. Venkatesan

NEW DELHI, OCT. 11. The Supreme Court today stayed an interim order passed by the Madras High Court superceding the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) and appointing a retired judge of the apex court, S. Mohan, as interim administrator to manage the Board's affairs.

The High Court order on Friday was on a review petition from the Chennai-based Nethaji Cricket Club. It restrained the newly-elected BCCI office-bearers from discharging their functions.

Passing the orders on a special leave petition filed by the BCCI and the Delhi District Cricket Association (DDCA), a Bench of the Supreme Court, comprising Justice N. Santosh Hegde and Justice S.B. Sinha, also stayed the election/appointment of Jagmohan Dalmiya as BCCI patron-in-chief until further orders.

BCCI stand

Appearing for the BCCI, senior counsel Abhishek Singhvi said the High Court had clearly recorded an undertaking made on behalf of the BCCI that no candidate contesting for the presidentship would be restrained from casting his vote on grounds of residence. He said that when this undertaking had not been violated, there was no occasion for the High Court to entertain a review petition. Further, there was no justification to conclude that there were irregularities in the election, warranting a bar on the newly-elected office-bearers taking charge. He questioned the locus standi of the Nethaji Cricket Club in challenging the BCCI election.

Senior counsel Fali Nariman, appearing for D.C. Agashe, a member of the Maharashtra Cricket Association, who was not allowed to vote in the September 29 BCCI elections, submitted that the Madras High Court had understood the undertaking in the sense that it would pertain to all forms of disqualification. He said no restricted meaning should be given to the undertaking, the breach of which had resulted in Mr. Agashe not being able to vote. As there was a tie between Ranbir Singh Mahendra (who won) and the Union Agriculture Minister, Sharad Pawar, the BCCI president, Jagmohan Dalmiya exercised his casting vote in favour of Mr. Mahendra.

Mr. Nariman quoted from a letter written by Mr. Dalmiya to the Maharashtra Cricket Association prior to his election as the patron-in-chief in which he had stated that there was no objection to Mr. Agashe voting at the special general meeting on September 12. When Mr. Agashe could vote for the election of Mr. Dalmiya as patron-in-chief, how could he be prevented from voting in the BCCI election, counsel asked.

Appearing for the Nethaji Cricket Club, senior counsel Harish Salve said he had no objection to vacating the stay granted by the High Court but in that eventuality, fresh elections should be held immediately.

Mr. Salve said if Mr. Agashe was not allowed to vote because of the Bombay High Court order, a similar order passed by the Company Law Board operated against the DDCA and its representative should not have been allowed to vote.

`Fresh elections if irregularities are found'

The Bench said that "the facts may be in your favour, but it also prima facie appears that the High Court could not have passed such an order on a review petition. Everything is not all right with the BCCI, but everything is not right with the High Court order also. If we are satisfied that there were irregularities in the BCCI elections, we may direct fresh elections for the Board".

Senior counsel Gopal Subramaniam appeared for Mr. Dalmiya and he was allowed to file a special leave petition.

The Bench asked all the parties to file their responses and directed the listing of the matter for final hearing on October 26.

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