SC stays restrain order, but restrains Dalmiya

Published: Monday, October 11, 2004, 23:53 [IST]
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New Delhi:Board of Control for Cricket in India's (BCCI) newly elected office bearers were restored to their posts today with the Supreme Court staying a Madras High Court order restraining them, but Jagmohan Dalmiya, the key figure in their election, was himself restrained from becoming its patron-in-chief.

A Bench, comprising Justice N Santosh Hegde and Justice S B Sinha, felt that prima facie the High Court did not act properly by passing the order restraining the newly elected Board while entertaining a review petition filed by Netaji Cricket Club (NCC), the petitioner before the High Court.

The Bench noticed skeletons tumbling out of the cupboards as NCC pointed out serious irregularities in the recent elections of the Board and observed that "if we are satisfied, we may order holding of fresh elections for the Board".

After hearing the Board, Delhi District Cricket Association (DDCA), NCC and D C Agashe representing the Mahrashtra Cricket Association, the Bench fixed October 26 for final hearing on the petitions and passed an interim direction staying the High Court order.

Taking into account alleged irregularities in the election of Ranbir Singh Mahendra as the Board president and the apprehension that Dalmiya would become patron-in-chief of the Board, the Bench said "in the meanwhile, Dalmiya is restrained from getting elected/appointed as the patron-in-chief".

The Court also stayed the election or appointment of Jagmohan Dalmiya as patron-in-chief of the BCCI in the meanwhile.

The Court allowed the Delhi and District Cricket Association (DDCA) to file a Special Leave Petition against the Madras High Court order and posted all the petitions for final hearing on October 26.

The Court, after hearing BCCI, Netaji Cricket Club and the Maharashtra Cricket Association, observed that "if we are satisfied on the next date of hearing that everything was not alright during the recently held elections, then we will order fresh elections for the Board".

Appearing for BCCI and DDCA, senior advocate A M Singhvi contended that the NCC had no locus standi to move a petition against the Board and the High Court committed error by entertaining the same in review jurisdiction and passing orders restraining the newly-elected Board from functioning.

He said that the Board's undertaking before the High Court was that it would not disqualify any person from contesting for the post of president of the Board and the undertaking had not been violated.

However, senior advocate Fali S Nariman, appearing for Maharashtra Cricket Association's D Agashe who was disqualified from voting, alleged that his client was allowed to vote in favour of Dalmiya for the post of patron-in-chief on September 12 but disqualified from voting on September 29 in the elections for the post of president.

He said the Bombay High Court order, as Dalmiya himself understood, did not debar Agashe from voting and accused Dalmiya of playing "preferential politics".

Appearing for NCC, senior advocate Harish Salve alleged that serious irregularities took place during the elections as representatives of two cricket associations -- Maharashtra and Rajasthan -- were unfairly debarred from voting.

Drawing the Court's attention to the tie in the votes polled by both Sharad Pawar and Mahendra Singh, he said if the two representatives were allowed to vote "it is anybody's guess as to who would have become the president"

Salve also cited that if Agashe, because of the Bombay High Court order, was not allowed to vote in the BCCI elections, then a similar order passed by the Company Law Board operated against DDCA and its representative should also not have been allowed to vote.

The Bench observed that "the facts may be in your favour, but it also prima facie appears that the High Court could not have acted in writ jurisidiction to pass such an order".

"Everything is not alright with BCCI but everything is not right also with the High Court order," the Bench said and added "if satisfied, we may direct fresh elections for the Board".

Taking a serious view of the manner in which BCCI elections were held in Kolkata, the High Court on October 8 had restrained the newly elected members of the BCCI from functioning and appointed retired Supreme Court judge Justice Mohan as interim administrator to run the affairs of the Board.

Salve pointed out the manner in which the Board had respected the High Court order by ordering "complimentary off" for all its employees across the country on October 9 when Justice Mohan went to assume charge as administrator.

He said BCCI's plea that its selection committees for players and umpires would also come to a standstill was unfounded as the High Court had only restrained the Board and not its selection committees from functioning.

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