Delhi HC: BCCI open to judicial review

NEW DELHI: Didn't we say that the cricket saga is full of twists and turns?

Even as the Supreme Court is refereeing whether the Indian cricket board is a 'state' or not within the parameters of the definition of Article 12, the Delhi High Court today held that Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) is open to judicial scrutiny as it is performing ''public functions'' and has a duty towards the public.

In the same vein, according to agency reports, however, the court maintained that the Board would continue to be a private independent body.

A division bench, comprising Chief Justice BC Patel and Justice BD Ahmed, held that the BCCI was performing "public functions'' like the `State' and was as such amiable to writ petition.

However, the judges also said the Board will continue to be a private independent body and will not be open to writ jurisdiction on issues like telecast contracts and its internal rules, agencies reported today.

On 18 August, 2004, the Delhi HC had reserved its order on the question of maintainability of a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) seeking a probe into the functioning and accounts of the Board.

The PIL, filed by advocate Rahul Mehra and businessman Santanu Sharma in April 2000, had sought an independent investigation into the Board's functioning and account of five years (1995-2000). It called for ensuring that BCCI accounts were audited transparently by the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) and the Board functioned primarily for the promotion and

development of Cricket.

While the petitioners said BCCI was performing a public function (of the State), the Board had challenged the locus of the petitioner to raise such an issue in a writ petition saying neither was the Board a ''State'' nor an ''instrumentality of the State''.

The Court, however, had asked how could the BCCI-sponsored team sport the nation's name and don the national colours. ''Who had given the Board the permission to do so?'' the bench asked.

On 16 July, the division bench had directed BCCI to furnish within 15 days complete details of its finances and activities after the Board had submitted a 21-point broad outline on its income, expenditure and activities.

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