SUPREME COURT’S BCCI/IPL VERDICT: REFRESHINGLY ENGAGING

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.

IPL Fixing

SUPREME COURT’S BCCI/IPL VERDICT: REFRESHINGLY ENGAGING

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey–https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

Advertisements

IPL VERDICT: SEVEN QUESTIONS SUPREME COURT’S VERDICT IS BASED ON

The seven questions the Supreme Court deliberated on to lay down the roadmap to the further course of action to clean BCCI, to cleanse Indian Cricket to take the IPL Spot Fixing probe to its final conclusion are:

1. If BCCI comes under judicial review?

The apex court says yes. The Verdict reads – BCCI may not be State under Article 12 of the Constitution but is certainly amenable to writ jurisdiction under Article 226 of the Constitution of India.

2. If Gurunath Meiyappan and Raj Kundra were team officials and if they were involved in betting?

The court says yes to both.

3. If Gurunath Meiyappan and Raj Kundra were team officials and if they were found guilty, what would be the future course of action?

The verdict copy reads – The misconduct against these two individuals is actionable as per the relevant rules to which we have referred in detail. Not only that, we have held that action under the rules can also be taken against the franchisees concerned. We have noticed that that the quantum of sanction/punishment can vary depending upon the gravity of the misconduct of the persons committing the same.

4. If N Srinivasan was involved in covering-up the IPL Spot Fixing episode?

The court says no – but not without making scathing remarks on Srinivasan’s overall conduct, putting him in the dock. The verdict says the allegation wasn’t proved but it doesn’t mean the allegation was baseless. The court does accepts the ‘element of suspicion’ on the part of Srinivasan’s conduct in the spot-fixing cover-up affair.

5. If the BCCI amendment of its Regulation 6.4.2 allowing its administrators to have commercial interests in IPL, Champions League and Twenty-20 was legally unethical and unacceptable?

The court says yes, it was ‘legally bad’ – The Amendment to Rule 6.2.4 permitting Administrators of BCCI to acquire or hold commercial interests in BCCI like IPL, champions league and T-20 held to be bad.

The court struck down the amendment saying Srinivasan’s simultaneous roles as the BCCI chief and IPL team owner were a clear-cut case of ‘conflict of interest’ and the conduct was not acceptable and Srinivasan needed to choose between BCCI and IPL.

6. If Sundar Raman, the IPL Chief Operating Officer (COO) was guilty?

The Supreme Court has ordered further probe on Sundar Raman’s role in the IPL Spot Fixing scandal, placing him firmly under scanner.

The verdict elaborates: Mr. Sundar Raman was, and continues to be the Chief Operating Officer of IPL. He has held and continues to hold a very important position in the entire system. On his own showing he was dealing with practically all aspects of organization of the game, including facilitating whenever necessary the appearance and participation of celebrities and organizing tickets, accreditation cards and such other matters. He was, therefore, the spirit behind the entire exercise and cannot be said to be unconcerned with what goes on in the course of the tournament especially if it has the potential of bringing disrepute to the game/BCCI.

We are, therefore, not inclined to let the allegations made against Mr. Sundar Raman go un-probed, even if it means a further investigation by the investigating team provided to the probe committee or by any other means. Truth about the allegations made against Mr. Sundar Raman, must be brought to light, for it is only then that all suspicions about the fraudulent activities and practices floating in the media against the BCCI and its administrators in several proceedings before different courts can be given a quietus.

7. What should be the future course of action – on cleaning BCCI and cleansing Cricket run by it and taking the IPL Spot Fixing probe to its finality?

Giving directions on N Srinivasan, Sundar Raman, Raj Kundra, Gurunath Meiyappan, Chennai Super Kings, Rajasthan Royals, BCCI and IPL Spot Fixing episode – the court formed a three member committed to be headed by R. M. Lodha, former Chief Justice – to probe the matter further and to come with guidelines on revamping BCCI – with a deadline of six months. Ashok Bhan and R. V. Raveendran, former Supreme Court judges are other members of the committee.

IPL Fixing

IPL VERDICT: SEVEN QUESTIONS SUPREME COURT’S VERDICT IS BASED ON

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey–https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

IT’S IPL MESS ALL OVER! COULD YOU HEAR THEM SPEAKING OF THE DPCO?

It has swept over the thinking horizon. A mercurial, controversial but a glamorous cricketer, a high-octane, high-decibel but low-sportsmanship spirit form of the gentleman’s game, a manifestation of the perennial human greed again and a hyperactive Indian media in an over-competitive market – the last week has been a potboiler with minute-by-minute coverage of what we know as ‘the Indian Premier League Spot Fixing scandal’, that the efficient-but-reckless-but-insensitive Delhi Police, by chance, came to know and pursued and dug more. The revelations are still a work-in-progress.

That is good. Cricket ‘was’ like a religion in India. Millions would sleep and get-up remembering and analysing the last seen game. Even now, if it is an India-Pakistan game, the whole nation still comes to a standstill.

But, the sorry state of affairs is, we cannot write now something like this – ‘cricket has been like a religion in India’ –that we used to read and write so frequently in the past!

And the major factor behind it is the credibility crisis that began to erode with the match-fixing scandals the first big casualties which were the likes of Mohammad Azaharuddin, seen as one of India’s most successful captains. Since then, cricket-fixing (betting) has taken away the sheen from the game. Cricket is now no more a game of flow of emotions. Rather, it has become a form of calculated, commoditized entertainment to be purchased, much like an IPL tournament.

Nothing wrong in that! Existence of the human mind needs entertainment but why to get swept away in the wave. Except that we are slipping in the quagmire of the misplaced priorities!

The IPL spot-fixing story has pushed everything else to the periphery as if nothing else is moving in this country of over a billion. In all this business of market sentimentalism and priority-shopping, a very important development was left almost untouched, very comfortably.

The development has the potential to change the lives of the millions, millions of the Indians who cannot afford the healthcare due to exorbitantly high prices of medicines.

The development is a must for a developing country like India which has the world’s second largest population.

The development is a must for a country like India where the majority of the population is quality-illiterate, where school dropout rate is a national shame, where education and healthcare, though necessary, are seen as additional burden-heads on the monthly household budget.

The government on May 16 cleared the long pending Drug Price Control Order 2013 (DPCO) under the National Pharmaceutical Pricing Policy 2012 to bring 348 essential medicines and 652 formulations under a controlled-pricing mechanism.

The DPCO that is to come into force in July is expected to bring down the cost of the essential medicines by 20-25 per cent and in some case, like the anti-cancer drugs, by 80 per cent.

27 therapeutic areas that are to be covered under it include cardiac, pain killers, anti-allergic, gastro-intestinal, anti-diabetic, anti-cancer, anti-leprosy, anti-tuberculosis and anti-hypertensive medicines.

The DPCO has the mechanism to keep the prices in check with only annual price-revision allowed and that too, has to be a market-based revision unlike the cost-based one that is in practice now. Another good aspect is the prices of the imported drugs, too, would come under this pricing-control regulation.

Now, this is a significant social empowerment milestone. Increased access to the essential medicines for millions means improved health of the nation. It is a good beginning and it is needed to be talked, discussed and spread if we intend to build further on it.

Increasingly, we have seen the governments come easily under the pressure of the industrial lobbies and we have all the reasons to think that this watchdog too, would be vulnerable to manipulations. We need to develop a vigilant voice to keep a check on it and that needs a healthy tradition of debate over it.

Non-governmental organizations and various social groups have been fighting for the controlled-pricing mechanism to regulate prices of the essential and life-saving drugs and this is indeed a significant victory. But there are many other necessary requirements on the agenda. There have been debates on introducing and promoting generic versions of the costly medicines to meet the healthcare demands of the majority of the Indians and that has to be implemented on priority.

The DPCO notification could well have been an opportunity to extend such debates from the environs of the social groups to the larger public sphere to make the ‘populations’ a direct stakeholder in the process.

But the speakers of the public interest didn’t see a glamour-quotient here and such an issue of social vitality was conveniently buried under the debris of the IPL mess.

When would we understand to prioritize? Why do we need some Aamir Khan to push us to act on the matters of social relevance?

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/