Judges differ on BCCI amendment

Updated: Apr 28, 2011, 22:10 PM IST

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Thursday referred to a larger bench a petition by former Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) president A.C. Muthiah challenging the amendment to its rules to permit its office bearers to own Indian Premier League (IPL) and Championship League Twenty20 franchises.

A bench of Justice J.M. Panchal and Justice Gyan Sudha Misra took the decision following dissenting views on the issue.

Justice Panchal said: "Since there is a difference of opinion, let the papers of these matters be placed before the Hon`ble Chief Justice of India for being assigned to the appropriate bench."

While he dismissed the petition challenging the amendment, which permitted BCCI secretary N. Srinivasan to own Chennai Super Kings, Justice Misra allowed the appeal saying if Srinivasan wanted to continue to hold the franchise, he would have to give up his position in BCCI.

BCCI rules prohibited its officebearers from engaging in activities that conflict with the commercial interest of the cricketing body. However, this provision was amended to facilitate its office bearers from having stake in IPL T20 teams.

While dismissing Muthiah`s appeal, Justice Panchal said that being the past president of the BCCI does not automatically makes him the administrator of the cricketing body and entitles him initiate legal proceedings. He said that a past president of the BCCI gains the status of an administrator of the BCCI only if he is nominated to one of its committees or sub-committees.

"(In the light of discussion made above) the appellant (Muthiah) will have to be considered as an outsider and it will have to be held that he is not entitled to maintain suits against BCCI claiming that he is an administrator," he said.

Justice Panchal further said that there was no doubt that BCCI was a private body thus "its action has to be judged only like any other similar society or body". "It can`t be judged like an instrumentality of state or other authority exercising public function."

"In a private society what is in the interest of the society has to be primarily decided by the by the society alone and such a question can`t be left for determination of an outside agency," he said.

"Society (read BCCI) was free to make its own memorandum, rules and bye-laws to govern the activities of the society and its members and not vis-à-vis the interest of non-members/strangers," he said, ruling that the regulatory role of the state in respect of BCCI or any other sports body does not make it an instrument of the state.

Justice Gyan Sudha Misra, in her dissenting judgment allowing the appeal, said that if "Srinivasan opts to continue owning and operating IPL team Chennai Super Kings, he shall be at liberty to do so but in that event he shall be restrained from holding any office in the BCCI in any capacity whatsoever".

She said the BCCI follows the doctrine of "fairness" and "good faith" in all its activities, and has incorporated a regulation that: "No administrator shall have directly or indirectly any commercial interest in any events of the BCCI."

"Whether any exception diluting its effect could be carved out of that without any just cause by introducing an amendment into the same," she asked.