The Supreme Court on Thursday has put off the hearing of the Board of Control for Cricket in India vs Cricket Association of Bihar in the Indian Premier League scandal case to at least after two weeks. The apex court said the case was 'not urgent' and can be heard at a later date.
In spite of a request from the BCCI lawyers to hear the case on an emergent basis, the judges Justice AK Patnaik and Justice Jagdish Singh Khehar said the Board was free to go to the Chief Justice and seek another bench for quick disposal.
The BCCI's lawyers, it is learnt, are hoping for a fresh date of hearing on Saturday.
News agency IANS quotes BCCI advocate Radha Rangaswamy as saying, "The case was scheduled for Wednesday but it came up today (Thursday) very late around 3.40 p.m. Since the hearing was not possible in 20 minutes, it was postponed. The next date of hearing will be known on Saturday when the court prepares the schedule for next week."
Every delay is a setback for the BCCI's lawyers who are under pressure to resolve the case and ensure that embattled Board chief N. Srinivasan returns as the BCCI president. So far, Srinivasan has been operating in exile after filing an affidavit in Bombay High Court on July 4 that he will return only after the allegations of corruption during the Indian Premier League 2013 have been fairy resolved.
With the Board's AGM due on September 29 and Srinivasan announcing he will chair the meeting, it remains to be seen how the BCCI's lawyers deal with the latest decision deferring the case. Former president Jagmohan Dalmiya is currently the 'caretaker' president.
With time running out, the BCCI's lawyers are expected to act on a Special Leave Petition filed by the CAB in which the Bihar body wants the appointment of a new committee to probe allegations of corruption in the Indian Premier League.
On August 30, the Supreme Court also wanted to know from the BCCI's lawyers why a new panel shouldn't be formed to investigate the allegations of spot-fixing and betting during IPL matches in 2013. In the eye of the storm, among others, are BCCI's president-in-exile and owner of Chennai Super Kings Srinivasan and his son-in-law Gurunath Meiyappan. (Read: Don't mix my business with cricket, says Srinivasan)
All hell broke loose on the BCCI when the Bombay High Court on July 30 termed the probe panel set up by the Indian cricket board to investigate the role of IPL team owners and management in the spot-fixing and betting scandal as "illegal and unconstitutional". The BCCI probe panel, comprising former judges T Jayaram Chouta and R Balasubramanian, had given a clean chit to Meiyappan and Rajasthan Royals co-promoter Raj Kundra in the scandal. (Read: Sreesanth arrested for spot-fixing)
The Bombay High Court had acted on a PIL filed by CAB secretary Aditya Verma. The PIL questioned the sanctity of the panel as it was constituted while Srinivasan was still the president. He stepped aside only on June 2, even though there were demands from many sections for him to resign to ensure a free and fair inquiry. (Read: Srinivasan could face legal action if he chairs BCCI AGM)
The BCCI challenged the Bombay High Court order in the Supreme Court by filing an SLP on August 5. In its 13-page petition, the BCCI had sought to contest the High Court order on various grounds including its decision to entertain the CAB PIL given the board's status as a private body. It also sought to challenge the petitioner's right to file a PIL and question the legality of the inquiry panel when CAB was not even part of the Board. (Read: Dalmiya dodges question on Srinivasan)
Srinivasan's two-year term as president ends in September. He is expected to seek a year's extension at the September 29 AGM in Chennai. But till such time all legal tangles are sorted and BCCI's members are convinced about the credentials of their chief, the Tamil Nadu strongman will remain edgy.