Supreme Court aims to get to the bottom of Thakur-ICC letter issue

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The Supreme Court has deferred considering taking action against BCCI president Anurag Thakur for asking the ICC to clarify whether one of the Lodha Committee’s recommendations amounted to government interference in the board, but the issue is far from over.

The court said it was a “matter of serious concern” that Thakur had asked the ICC for a letter regarding the induction of a nominee of the Comptroller and Auditor General on the proposed Apex Council, which is a recommendation in the Lodha report that was passed by the Supreme Court order on July 18. The ICC does not permit government interference in the functioning of its members.

In an order on Friday, the court asked the Lodha Committee secretary to write to ICC chairman Shashank Manohar and “set the record” straight because on October 17, upon directive from the court, Thakur had filed an affidavit and denied that he sought such a letter. This issue had emerged because ICC chief executive David Richardson had told India Today that Thakur had made such a request, and the court said on Friday that such behaviour was to “question the legitimacy” of its recommendation.   

The court said: “It is a matter of serious concern that the President of BCCI, even after the declaration of the final judgment and order of this Court dated 18 July 2016, requested the Chairperson of ICC for a letter “clarifying” (as he states) the position which he had taken as BCCI President to the effect that the induction of a CAG nominee would amount to governmental interference and may result in BCCI being suspended from ICC.

“There was no occasion for the President of BCCI to do so once the recommendation of the Committee for the induction of a CAG nominee was accepted in the final judgment of this Court.”

Thakur’s original remarks concerning the letter to the ICC were part of an affidavit – signed by Ratnakar Shetty, the BCCI’s administration and game development manager – filed in the court on October 7, in response to the status report submitted by the Lodha Committee. During that hearing, the court asked how Shetty had been privy to a conversation between Thakur and Manohar, and asked Thakur and Shetty to file separate affidavits as part of the October 17 hearing.

In its order on Friday, the court said Thakur’s version of events concerning the approach to the ICC was corroborated by the minutes of the BCCI working committee meeting on August 22. In the affidavit filed by Shetty, however, the board had denied that Thakur had sought ICC intervention at all and said Richardson’s comments were “incorrect”.

The court observed there was a “variance” in what Richardson and Shetty were saying. “Mr Shetty in his response to the status report claims that the CEO of ICC had ‘falsely’ stated in his interview that the President of BCCI had requested ICC to issue a letter stating that the intervention of this Court amounted to governmental interference. The version of Mr Shetty is at variance to what is alleged to have been stated by the CEO of ICC.

“It may also become necessary for this Court to assess the veracity of the version of Mr Shetty and that of Mr Richardson. Mr Shashank Manohar, the then President of BCCI is presently the Chairman of ICC. A copy of this order shall be forwarded to him by the Secretary to the Committee in order to enable him to consider filing a response setting out his version, to set the record straight and assist this Court. Mr Manohar is at liberty to obtain a report from Mr Richardson before filing his response.”

Nagraj Gollapudi is a senior assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

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