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With the Supreme Court’s stinging criticism of N Srinivasan, the man who once refused to be “railroaded” is unlikely to take on the apex court in what seems a losing battle for him. Abhijit Banare explains the course ahead, the legalities, the possible escape routes on offer and why all said and done Srinivasan’s exit is imminent.
‘Nauseating’ is the new word which has ‘bulldozed’ and ‘railroaded’ the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) chief N Srinivasan. Just 24 hours after the Supreme Court (SC) came hard on the board supremo, there are indications that he would yet again remain brazen against all odds. Shivlal Yadav, the South Zone head, who was ‘ready’ to take over if necessary, indicated that Srinivasan might not step down. However, if we analyse the scenario of the events that unfolded, another fightback looks unlikely. In consultation with the board counsel PS Raman, Srinivasan is in all probability playing out his last act of defiance.
Justice AK Patnaik and Justice Justice Fakkir Mohamed Ibrahim Kalifulla heard the case on Tuesday and Justice Patnaik has already made an observation that if Srinivasan doesn’t step down, the court is likely to pass a verdict in the case. According to what this report suggests, a review petition is likely, but it will only allow the supremo to buy some time. Review petitions are a method for the aggrieved party to seek a review of the decision passed by the SC. Even the acceptance of that review hangs in balance as the court has the power to dismiss it.
So what happens if Srinivasan doesn’t resign?
As of now, the BCCI chief has showed no intentions of resigning. With the hearing on Thursday, as per the court’s statement on March 25, Srinivasan will be asked to step down from his post. However, in an extremely rare possibility, if Srinivasan chooses to stand still, it will be considered as a ‘civil contempt’ of court (which means willful disobedience to court’s order) and the apex court can punish him with as much as six months of imprisonment. By any stretch of logic, Srinivasan is in no position to defy the order and face such a punishment. The most recent example was that of Sahara chief Subrata Roy, who failed to turn up for contempt proceedings at the SC. The most he can convince is the option of stepping aside as he did in June last year and paved the way for Jagmohan Dalmiya to take over as interim chief. With the BCCI elections scheduled in September this year, Srinivasan will be aiming to step aside and make a fresh comeback into the administrative fold by playing his cards right. But will he get the support of the members around him?
Moments after the court’s statement, vice-president Ravi Savant was the first to back the argument that Srinivasan’s position was untenable. His statement was followed by Yadav, heading the South Zone stating that he would be ready to take over and defying a court order was not an option. This is a set of members installed by the board after the first set of exits during the spot-fixing issues in the form of treasurer Ajay Shirke and secretary Sanjay Jagdale. As time passes by, Srinivasan finds it even more difficult to keep the voices against him from within in control.
As PTI reported: “ln case of vacancy occurring in the office of President by reason of death or by him being adjudged insolvent or by him being convicted in a criminal case by a competent Court or by resignation or otherwise, the Honorary Secretary shall within 15 days convene a Special General Body Meeting to elect the President who shall be nominated by at least one full member from the zone which proposed the name of the President whose term was cut short prematurely. Such person who is so elected shall hold office till the next elections.”
Aditya Verma: The man who had the courage to take on the might of Srinivasan
It’s the determined effort of Aditya Verma, who floated the Cricket Association of Bihar (CAB), which has pushed Srinivasan towards the cliff. The Bombay High Court’s observation, coming down hard at the probe committee set by the board which absolved them of all charges only added to the board’s dilemma. While the board filed a Special Leave Petition (SLP) in the Supreme Court backing the legality of its own probe committee, Aditya Verma filed an SLP in return requesting the court to set up its own probe committee. It is the Court’s verdict on Verma’s SLP, the board had to accept the probe committee headed by Justice Mukul Mudgal.
Mudgal is the man who played a key role during the fixing case came out with the extensive report which highlighted the possible wrongdoings which included the misdeeds of Srinivasan’s son-in-law Gurunath Meiyappan. In other words, Verma’s SLP played an important part. It was on this SLP, the Supreme Court had passed its observations on Tuesday.
What is a Special Leave Petition:
This is the power of the Supreme Court, under Article 136 of the constitution, which allows the apex court to grant leave to appeal against any judgement, in case any substantial constitutional question of law is involved or gross injustice has been done. BCCI here is an aggrieved party, and it had salvaged a certain amount of discretionary power to file an SLP to seek relief from the Bombay HC verdict, which was also challenged by Verma. Verma’s fight with BCCI and Srinivasan dates back to 2007 over the legitimacy of CAB. Srinivasan was the treasurer of the board back then.
If the court does pass an order asking Srinivasan to step down, it will come as a huge sigh of relief for Verma — and, one dare say, well-wishers of Indian cricket. However, the task of cleaning up the administration will only begin once he steps down. And a lot will depend on the will of board members to carry out the cleanup. Remember, the probe observations have still not finished and the apex court will pass its observations on the Mudgal committee report and envelope too is yet to reveal the names.
(Abhijit Banare is a reporter at CricketCountry. He is an avid quizzer and loves to analyse and dig out interesting facts which allows him to learn something new every day. Apart from cricket he also likes to keep a sharp eye on Indian politics, and can be followed on Twitter and blog)
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