Thakur denies seeking ICC intervention

Anurag Thakur has said he sought a letter from current ICC chairman Shashank Manohar only to clarify “the position which he had taken as BCCI president” © AFP

BCCI president Anurag Thakur has denied that he sought a letter from the ICC stating that adoption of the Lodha Committee’s recommendations was “tantamount” to government interference in the working of the board.

While passing an interim order on October 7, the Supreme Court had asked Thakur to file a “personal affidavit” to clarify whether he had asked for ICC’s interventions, as revealed by ICC chief executive David Richardson to an Indian news channel.

“At the outset it is denied that any such request was put forth by me to the CEO of the ICC,” Thakur said in the affidavit, submitted to the Supreme Court on Monday by BCCI’s legal counsel Kapil Sibal. Incidentally, Richardson had never said Thakur had asked him for the letter. Thakur, Richardson had said, had “verbally” asked for a letter and ICC chairman Shashank Manohar turned down the request saying the BCCI needed to put it down in writing first.

Thakur pointed out in his affidavit that during an ICC governance review committee meeting, called on August 6 and 7 in Dubai, he had checked with Manohar whether he had objected to the appointment of a nominee of the Comptroller and Auditor General’s office, a government organisation, on the proposed Apex Council. The Apex Council and a seat for the CAG official were both part of the Lodha Committee’s recommendations, which were approved by the court in its July 18 order.

Thakur asked Manohar, who was the BCCI president between October 2015 and May 2016, if he had suspected the said recommendations could “invoke suspension” from the ICC. “During the meeting with regard to the review of the constitutional provisions of ICC, I pointed out to the Chairman of the ICC, Mr Shashank Manohar that when he was President of BCCI he had taken a view that the recommendations of the Justice Lodha committee appointing the nominee of the CAG on the Apex Council would amount to governmental interference and might invoke an action of suspension from ICC.

“I therefor requested him that he being the ICC Chairman can a letter be issued clarifying the position which he had taken as BCCI President,” Thakur said in his affidavit.

According to Thakur, Manohar explained to him at the time that the court had not made a decision. Thakur said he was “satisfied” with Manohar’s explanation and the matter “stopped at that”. “In the said judgment, this Hon’ble Court has rejected the submission that the appointment of the nominee of CAG on Apex council would amount to Governmental interference and had also held that the ICC would appreciate the appointment as it would bring transparency in the finances of the Board.”

Sibal argued that the conversation between Thakur and Manohar was not “formal” and also stressed that the BCCI president did not “expressly” ask for an ICC letter that said the BCCI stood in danger of being disqualified if the CAG official was part of the Apex Council.

Amicus Gopal Subramanium asked the court whether Thakur could be trusted to carry out the court orders which have stated clearly that it was mandatory upon the BCCI and the state associations to implement all the recommendations of the Lodha Committee unconditionally.

“This kind of conduct from a man at the helm of affairs is not considered compliant. Can such a man be invested with the trust to implement the judgment?” Subramanium said.

Thakur’s original remarks concerning the ICC letter were part of an affidavit filed in the court by the BCCI on October 7 as a response to the status report submitted by the Lodha Committee. That affidavit had been signed by Ratnakar Shetty, BCCI’s administration and game development manager. The court was curious to know as to how Shetty was privy to a conversation between Thakur and Manohar.

On Monday, Shetty filed a separate affidavit stating that he had been authorised by BCCI secretary Ajay Shirke in a resolution passed on June 1 this year.

Nagraj Gollapudi is a senior assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

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