India’s cash-rich and powerful cricket board could face a possible leadership crisis on Friday with the Supreme Court threatening to punish the sports body for doggedly refusing to implement a raft of reforms suggested by a panel headed by a former judge.
“If you are giving an unconditional undertaking that you are abiding by all conditions by tomorrow (Friday), we will wait, otherwise we are passing orders,” chief justice TS Thakur told the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) on Thursday.
The BCCI is accused of cherry-picking recommendations made by the top court-appointed panel headed by former CJI RM Lodha. The BCCI refused on Thursday to offer a guarantee that it would comply with the reforms endorsed by the Supreme Court, worsening a bitter stand-off with the judiciary that has threatened to disrupt the country’s most popular sport.
The board’s defiance angered the bench to such an extent that it threatened to dismiss the body’s top rung and pass an interim order barring the funding of state cricket associations, prohibited under the Lodha panel recommendations.
One of the world’s richest and most powerful sports bodies, the BCCI has been dogged by financial scandals and allegations of mismanagement for decades.
After a spot-fixing scandal in the flagship Indian Premier League marred the BCCI’s reputation three years ago, the SC ordered the Lodha panel to clean up the body and suggest changes. But the recommendations have proven thorny to implement with the BCCI digging in its heels.
During the hearing on Thursday, BCCI lawyer Kapil Sibal asked for time till October 17 to talk to state associations and ruled out any immediate promise. He argued that any interim order restricting funds to BCCI affiliates will cripple domestic cricket.