If it takes a thief to
catch one, it probably takes a former Supreme Court judge to call out the constitutional
impropriety of the highest court for trying to make the law instead of merely
Markandey Katju, former
Supreme Court justice, has broken the mould of judges choosing their words
carefully. He has often opted for political incorrectness and saying it like it
is. In the past, he has disclosed how three former Chief Justices were
complicit in appointing a corrupt judge, taken on the media for their lack of
supervision, challenged controversial Islamic supremacist Zakir Naik over his
many claims, and, most famously, called 90 percent of Indians “fools.”
So chances are that
his views on the Supreme Court’s interference in how the Board of Control for
Cricket in India (BCCI) should be run will be deemed to be another of his
maverick ideas and dismissed. The fact is, he has spoken the truth like no
other former judge, about the Supreme Court’s decision to shove the Lodha panel’s
recommendations down the BCCI’s unwilling throat.
Katju minced no words. He said:
No one could have put it
better. What this writer has been pointing out, that the Supreme Court is
exceeding its constitutional brief repeatedly, is now confirmed by a former
Supreme Court justice himself.
Reproduced below are
excerpts from what one had to say just last month when the court insisted that
the Lodha panel’s recommendations be implemented in toto by the BCCI:
“You don’t have to be an
admirer of the way the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) manages its
affairs to realise that the Supreme Court has gone way beyond its
constitutional brief to try and impose a
solution on how the cricket body should be run. You don’t have to be
against what the RM Lodha committee has recommended for the BCCI to acknowledge
that a society registered in Tamil Nadu should be restructured according to
what the Supreme Court decides, and not what the law under which BCCI functions
“You don’t have to be in
love with the cabal that runs BCCI and its incestuous relationship with
politicians, to point out that this is almost exactly how the Supreme Court
runs itself: by selecting and appointing judges all by itself through an opaque
and unaccountable collegium. All efforts by the people’s representatives to
have a say in how judges are selected and the courts are run have come to
“The simple point: it is
not the Supreme Court’s job to decide how the BCCI or cricket should be
administered. Sure, if there are allegations of hanky-panky and transgressions
of the law, the courts can step in. But that’s about it.
is also worth repeating this old proverb for the benefit of the honourable
bench of Chief Justice TS Thakur and Justice FMI Kalifulla that is deciding the
BCCI’s fate: you can lead a horse to water, but you cannot make it drink.
Retired judges like Lodha can offer a set of recommendations on how the BCCI
should be structured, but at the end of the day, the Supreme Court is not going
to run cricket in India on a day-to-day basis. When the court’s attention
shifts away from cricket to less important issues like upholding the law, the
BCCI will find a way to get around the rules imposed by the court. When the cat
is away, the mice will play.
“So, cricket is not going
to be run very much better than how it is run now, except that it will now be
run by proxies. If someone over 70 is barred from remaining on the BCCI’s
management, some nominee of his will take his place and do his bidding. After all,
don’t we have the wives of sarpanches sitting on panchayat seats reserved for
women? Haven’t we seen Rabri Devi run Bihar when Lalu Prasad couldn’t do so?
Haven’t we seen O. Panneerselvam run Tamil Nadu as proxy Chief Minister when
his boss Jayalalithaa was convicted for corruption?
“The BCCI looks like a huge monolith right
now, but this monopoly may not last forever. The future of cricket, as of any
other sport, will be in clubs and city teams. So will the Supreme Court also
decide how they will be run?
“Will the Supreme Court
force a future Subhash Chandra, who some time ago floated a rival cricket
league for T20, to follow the prescription it has written down for the BCCI?
Will the court tomorrow tell Shah Rukh Khan how he will run Kolkata Knight
“Cricket is a game; there
is money in it; it will attract investors and audiences. It could do with a
regulatory body that is fair and impartial. It is this regulatory body that is
missing. Instead of asking the government to set up one, it has focused on how
the BCCI should be run, as if courts have all the answers. What if the BCCI
still remains a rogue body even after all this change? Will the Supreme Court
then offer a mea culpa?”
Read the full story on the Supreme Court’s folly here.
Jagannathan is Editorial Director, Swarajya. He tweets at @TheJaggi.
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