Equivocation before the Supreme Court can be costly. Anurag Thakur, president of the Board of Control for Cricket in India, may have learnt this bitter lesson after the Chief Justice of India found him prima facie guilty of contempt of court and perjury. The board’s predicament is not only due to its reluctance to accept the reforms suggested by the court-appointed Justice Lodha Committee. It is also because of its president’s ham-handed attempt to explain away his move to get the International Cricket Council to issue a letter to the effect that some judicial orders regarding the BCCI amounted to ‘governmental interference’. Mr. Thakur allegedly approached ICC chairman Shashank Manohar in Dubai in August 2016 in connection with the court’s July 18 order mandating that a nominee of the Comptroller and Auditor General of India should be on the BCCI’s apex council. It is not surprising that the court took a dim view of the BCCI initially denying that such an attempt had been made to get the ICC involved. It was probably just as displeased with Mr. Thakur going on to file an affidavit that he had only wanted Mr. Manohar to give his opinion on the issue as a former BCCI president. Mr. Thakur would have been better off admitting what happened, given that Mr. Manohar has disclosed that the BCCI president had indeed asked him for such a letter.
Mr. Thakur being rendered liable for prosecution for perjury is not the only consequence; the current BCCI office-bearers may lose their control over the board. The Bench headed by the Chief Justice is already in a mood to appoint some observers, based on a suggestion by the Lodha Committee, to oversee the BCCI’s affairs. The BCCI has allowed an impression to gain ground that its attitude towards reforms is one of defiance and obstruction. So far the cricket body has been maintaining that it cannot force its State-level affiliates to accept all the new norms. The BCCI could have avoided a direct confrontation by committing itself more plainly to abide by the court verdict. The BCCI’s reputation as a responsible sports administrator is under strain not because of any shortcoming in its management of the cricketing aspects of the game, but its seeming intransigence in embracing reforms aimed at bringing about transparency in its functioning. Any order convicting the BCCI president for perjury or holding its top functionaries guilty of contempt of court would severely damage the institution. An apology from Mr. Thakur, and the BCCI’s wholehearted acceptance of the Lodha Committee reforms, seem the only way out.