Reading it is refreshingly engaging.
By the nature of the issue in question, some Supreme Court judgements become landmark, redefining the way the matter concerning the issue would be seen in future.
That is going to be the case with Cricket after the yesterday’s verdict by the Supreme Court of India. Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), an outfit draped in secrecy so far, manages affairs of cricket in India and is largely responsible for bringing bad name to the game, a game that has been a mass phenomenon in India, making Indian cricketers and the Indian Board richest among their peers in the world fraternity.
The IPL Spot Fixing Verdict by the Supreme Court Bench of Justice T. S. Thakur and Justice Fakkir Mohamed Ibrahim Kalifulla has the potential to change the way BCCI has managed the affairs of the game so far, and is for good, aiming to bring and strengthen the elements of transparency and answerability in cricket’s administration in India.
The some 130 pages verdict focuses heavily on cleaning the game with observations like:
“Such is the passion for this game in this country that cricketers are seen as icons by youngsters, middle aged and the old alike. Any organization or entity that has such pervasive control over the game and its affairs and such powers as can make dreams end up in smoke or come true cannot be said to be undertaking any private activity.”
“The BCCI has in no uncertain terms declared its resolve to protect the fundamental imperatives constituting the essence of the game of cricket and its determination to take every step in its power to prevent corrupt betting practices undermining the integrity of the sport including any effort to influence the outcome of any match. Unfortunately, however, the amendment to Rule 6.2.4 (allowing BCCI administrators to have commercial interests in BCCI products like IPL) clearly negates the declarations and resolves of the BCCI by permitting situations in which conflict of interest would grossly erode the confidence of the people in the authenticity, purity and integrity of the game.”
“An amendment which strikes at the very essence of the game as stated in the Anti Corruption Code cannot obviously co-exist with the fundamental imperatives.”
“Conflict of interest situation is a complete anti-thesis to everything recognized by BCCI as constituting fundamental imperatives of the game hence unsustainable and impermissible in law.”
“The question is whether the BCCI can afford to see the game lose its credibility in the eyes of those who watch it, by allowing an impression to gather ground that what goes on in the name of the game is no more than a farce because of sporting frauds like betting, match fixing and the like.”
“Can the BCCI live with the idea of the game being seen only as a means to cheat the unsuspecting and gullible spectators watching the proceedings whether in the stadium or on the television with the passion one rarely sees in any other sporting enterprise.”
“BCCI’s commercial plans for its own benefit and the benefit of the players are bound to blow up in smoke, if the people who watch and support the game were to lose interest or be indifferent because, they get to know that some business interests have hijacked the game for their own ends or that the game is no longer the game they know or love because of frauds on and off the field.”
“There is no manner of doubt whatsoever that the game enjoys its popularity and raises passions only because of what it stands for and because the people who watch the sport believe that it is being played in the true spirit of the game without letting any corrupting influence come anywhere near the principles and fundamental imperatives considered sacrosanct and inviolable.”
“All told whatever be the format of the game and whatever be the commercial angles to it, the game is what it is, only if it is played in its pristine form free from any sporting fraud.”
“The fundamental imperatives, to which BCCI is avowedly committed in the Anti Corruption Code, cannot be diluted leave alone neglected or negated.”
“BCCI is a very important institution that discharges important public functions. Demands of institutional integrity are, therefore, heavy and need to be met suitably in larger public interest. Individuals are birds of passage while institutions are forever. The expectations of the millions of cricket lovers in particular and public at large in general, have lowered considerably the threshold of tolerance for any mischief, wrong doing or corrupt practices which ought to be weeded out of the system.”
And as a natural corollary, major part of the verdict deliberates on addressing the issue of ‘conflict of interest’ and its unethical realms engulfing BCCI and how BCCI is answerable to the people of India with its ‘public duties’.
“The functions of the Board are clearly public functions, which, till such time the State intervenes to takeover the same, remain in the nature of public functions, no matter discharged by a society registered under the Registration of Societies Act.”
Cricket has been like a religion in India. If we have discourses like ‘cricket’s ungentlemanly avatar’ or ‘cricket losing popularity in India’ or ‘cricket is no more a religion in India’, BCCI has to carry the blame for it, because in the blind rush to maintain a tight grip on its culture of secrecy and ‘cronyism’ and to further the vested interests as with commercialization came the increased wealth creation opportunities, the BCCI top brass started going even lower, breaking all norms of probity and N. Srinivasan was its worst manifestation.
That worst manifestation saw its spell lifting yesterday.
SUPREME COURT’S BCCI/IPL VERDICT: REFRESHINGLY ENGAGING
©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey–/