SC appoints former judge Justice D.K. Jain as BCCI ombudsman

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Requests him to take over “as soon as possible”.

The Supreme Court on Thursday appointed retired judge of the court Justice D.K. Jain as the first ombudsman under the new BCCI (Board of Control for Cricket in India) Constitution approved by the court in a judgment on August 9 last.

Bringing a quietus to the quibbling between the Committee of Administrators (CoA) which runs the BCCI and the State bodies that form the Board, a Bench of Justices S.A. Bobde and A.M. Sapre decided to take things into their own hands on the advice of amicus curiae and senior advocate P.S. Narasimha.

“Does anyone have a problem with us appointing an ombudsman? We have the names of six retired Supreme Court judges with us,” Justice Bobde asked the lawyers representing the parties in the courtroom.

The court had to intervene after State associations, represented by Solicitor General Tushar Mehta and senior advocate Kapil Sibal, said they would not have a BCCI run by the CoA “foist an ombudsman on us”. They initially said the appointment of an ombudsman could wait till the BCCI election.

But when the court passed on to them a list of the six names, they unanimously agreed on Justice Jain, who was requested by the court to take over as ombudsman “as soon as possible”.

A CoA report filed recently in the Supreme Court pushed home the advantage of having an ombudsman – who should either be a retired Supreme Court judge or a former Chief Justice of a High Court to be appointed for a year – under the new BCCI Constitution to resolve internal disputes.

Tasks at hand

One of the first jobs for Justice Jain would be to look into allegations of sexual assault against BCCI CEO Rahul Johri. The CoA had also pointed out how the controversy over the sexist remarks made by cricketers Hardik Pandya and K.L. Rahul on a chat show could have been placed before the ombudsman for an effective resolution.

Justice Bobde asked Mr. Narasimha to advise the two members of the CoA – former Comptroller and Auditor General Vinod Rai and former Indian women’s cricket player Diana Edulji – to not make public their differences of opinion.

“We heard there is some sparring going on between the members of the CoA… Please ask them not to go public with their rifts,” Justice Bobde addressed Mr. Narasimha.

The amcius curiae said there was need to appoint a third member to the CoA, which has been depleted after the exit of two members – Vikram Limaye and Ramachandra Guha.

The court said it had “someone in mind” and decided to discuss the name with the parties in the privacy of their judicial chambers. The court rose to carry on the session in chamber.

State associations unhappy

The State associations complained that the position within the BCCI has become “precarious” for them.

When Mr. Narasimha submitted that the “journey” of the BCCI litigation in the Supreme Court is three-fourths over, Mr. Mehta countered that the “journey was in the wrong direction”.

He said the entire money of the BCCI was “managed by two people of the CoA (Rai and Edulji)”.

“We are begging for our money,” Mr. Mehta said.

“For the last three years, not a penny has been paid to us,” Mr. Sibal said.

At one point, senior advocate Parag Tripathi, for the CoA, informed the court that “everything is done. We only await Your Lordships’ consent to hold the elections”.

Justice Bobde indicated that the court would consider ordering accordingly.

The court said that once the CoA was reconstituted with a new member, it could seek the advice of the amicus curiae on funds release, etc.

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