Professional engagement different from commercial interest, says Supreme Court

Dragging names of former players donning different roles in cricket did not cut much ice for N Srinivasan to remain at the helm of BCCI affairs, as the Supreme Court drew a clear distinction between commercial interest and professional engagement of a player on account of his proficiency in the game.

Professional engagement different from commercial interest, says Supreme Court

New Delhi: Dragging names of former players donning different roles in cricket did not cut much ice for N Srinivasan to remain at the helm of BCCI affairs, as the Supreme Court drew a clear distinction between commercial interest and professional engagement of a player on account of his proficiency in the game.

"There is a difference between commercial interest referred to in Rule 6.2.4 and professional engagement of a player on account of his proficiency in the game.

"It may be logically contended that engagement of a player even though made on a remuneration remains a professional engagement because of his professional skill in the game of cricket and not because he has made any investment like India Cements Ltd has done in acquiring a franchise or in any other form," a bench headed by Justices T S Thakur said.

The remarks were made in the wake of submissions of the BCCI and its President-in-Exile that if administrators were held to be disentitled for having any commercial interest in BCCI events including IPL, it may adversely affect not only the IPL format, but disqualify certain outstanding sports persons from getting engagements like coaches, mentors, commentators or other similar positions as they are often engaged "by reason of their proficiency in cricket".

It was also contended that if the amendment in 6.2.4 rule of the BCCI is interperated to oust Srinivasan from BCCI for being the Managing Director of India Cement Ltd which owns IPL team Chennai Super Kings, the same rule will come in the way of former players for donning multiple hats.

BCCI had submitted a list of players including former greats Sunil Gavaskar, Ravi Shastri and Saurav Ganguly and administrators with commercial interest in the IPL.

The list also included the names of Anil Kumble, Krish Srikkanth, Venkatesh Prasad and Lalchand Rajput.

Negating the arguments, the apex court said there was a difference between "commercial interest" mentioned in Rule 6.2.4 and "professional engagement" of a player on account of his proficiency in the game.

The court was of the view that at this juncture it cannot

"authoritatively" decide upon the question whether engagement of players as coaches, mentors, commentators or on similar other positions would come within the ambit of Rule 6.2.4.

It refrained from passing order on the issue of conflict of interest for players and confined itself to the case of cricket administrator and said the issue may be examined when it comes before the court for consideration.

"We do not consider it necessary or even proper to authoritatively pronounce upon the question whether such engagement of players, would fall foul of the prohibition contained in Rule 6.2.4 as it stood before amendment," the bench, also comprising Justice F M I Kalifulla, said, adding that the issue could be examined as and when it arose for consideration.

"All that we need say at this stage is that whether or not a player who is an administrator by reason of an existing or earlier assignment held by him, can acquire or hold a commercial interest in any BCCI event, will depend upon the nature of the interest that such person has acquired and whether the same is purely professional or has any commercial element to it. Beyond that we do not propose to say anything at this stage," it said.

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