After nearly three months of intense drama and bleak hope, the terminated Indian Premier League (IPL) franchise Rajasthan Royals (RR) gets a breather. The judge overseeing an arbitration case between the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) and the aggrieved franchise has temporarily ruled in favour of the latter, awarding it a six-week stay on the its expulsion.
The development indicates that RR will be able to function as an integral part of the league for that period of time, while also suggesting that it would participate in the players' auction which is scheduled for Jan 8 and 9.
In accordance with the judgement, for the following month and a half, the BCCI will not be allowed to do anything that could prejudice RR, like for instance, modifying the league's rules. "There will be no interference with them (Rajasthan) exercising rights under the franchise agreement," said Justice BN Srikrishna. "They will be allowed to participate in the auction."
The board however will not remain inert and has already indicated plans to contest the decision by moving court. The move which could come within the next week, will be carried out as a cautionary measure, as the board is uncertain where the case would go from here. "This is a major and significant development," the official said. "This could go anywhere now."
The stay constitutes the substance of an interim relief order, in accordance with which, the plaintiff - in this case Rajasthan - has the opportunity to resume business while the case in process. However, there is also a provision for the order to be challenged in the High Court. Justice Srikrishna opined that the BCCI would in all likelihood, appeal to the High Court after which the matter could even be referred to the Supreme Court based on the integral system of appeals and judgements.
Rajasthan welcomed the latest development. "We have received the interim order passed by Justice BN Srikrishna, the learned arbitrator who has been appointed by the both parties. We are extremely grateful for the speed and urgency shown by him, and we are reviewing the order and assessing it's full implications," Raghu Iyer, the franchise's spokesperson, said.
The BCCI ended Rajasthan Royal's IPL affiliation on October 10th on the grounds of changing its shareholder pattern without prior intimation which is in contravention of the norms set down by the board. On November 15th, the two parties decided to settle their dispute over the explusion through arbitration after Rajasthan had filed a case in the High Court challenging the board's decision to take the step unilaterally.
The arbitration hearing of the Kings XI Punjab franchise, which has also been terminated on similar grounds, will begin on Dec 2. A Punjab spokesman said the Rajasthan development could benefit their hearing. "This is a good piece of news for us," he said. "It is probably what may be the outcome of our abritration hearing as well."