Report No. 275
Analysis of The Legal Status of BCCI
6.1 In light of the discussion in the foregoing chapters, the legal status of BCCI may now be examined.
6.2 The questions pertaining to the legal status of BCCI under Article 12 of the Constitution has arisen before the Delhi High Court in various cases viz Mohinder Amarnath & Ors. v. BCCI,148 (Mohinder Amarnath case), Ajay Jadeja v. Union of India & Ors.,149 (Ajay Jadeja case), and Rahul Mehra & Anr. v. Union of India,150 (Rahul Mehra case).
6.3 In Mohinder Amarnath case, BCCI was held not to be an instrumentality of State taking into consideration the contractual nature of the rights and duties. However, in the Ajay Jadeja case, the Court, dealing with the question of nature of the duties performed by BCCI and that of the rights infringed, held that a writ under Article 226 is maintainable given the public nature of activities undertaken by BCCI.
The Court referred to the judgment in the case of Air India Statutory Corporation & Ors. v. United Labour Union & Ors.,151 wherein the Supreme Court had emphasised on the public nature of the functions performed by a private body as necessary criterion for falling under Article 226. The Court also recognised that even if a matter arises from a contract purely under private law, a writ will lie if the contract gives rise to a public duty or if the action thereunder involves violation of fundamental rights.
6.4 In Rahul Mehra case, it was clarified that due to the withdrawal of the writ petition by Ajay Jadeja, the order passed thereof also stood vacated. However, it was affirmed that writ petition against BCCI is maintainable owing to the monopoly nature of the functions performed by BCCI in regulating and controlling the game of cricket. According to the Court the words "any person or authority" used in Article 226 may cover any other person or body performing public duty.
6.5 Certain observations of the Apex Court, in the case of Board of Control for Cricket, India & Anr. v. Netaji Cricket Club & Ors.,152 (Netaji Cricket Club case) pertinent to the current deliberation, are reproduced hereunder:
The Board is a society registered under the Tamil Nadu Societies Registration Act. It enjoys a monopoly status as regard regulation of the sport of cricket[emphasis added] in terms of its Memorandum of Association and Articles of Association. It controls the sport of cricket and lays down the law therefor. It inter alia enjoys benefits by way of tax exemption and right to use stadia at nominal annual rent.
It earns a huge revenue not only by selling tickets to the viewers but also selling right to exhibit films live on TV and broadcasting the same[emphasis added]. Ordinarily, its full members are the State Associations except, Association of Indian Universities, Railway Sports Control Board and Services Sports Control Board. As a member of ICC, it represents the country in the international fora.
It exercises enormous public functions. It has the authority to select players, umpires and officials to represent the country in the international fora. It exercises total control over the players, umpires and other officers[emphasis added]. The Rules of the Board clearly demonstrate that without its recognition no competitive cricket can be hosted either within or outside the country. Its control over the sport of competitive cricket is deep, pervasive and complete[emphasis added].
In law, there cannot be any dispute that having regard to the enormity of power exercised by it, the Board is bound to follow the doctrine of 'fairness' and 'good faith' in all its activities. Having regard to the fact that it has to fulfil the hopes and aspirations of millions, it has a duty to act reasonably. It cannot act arbitrarily, whimsically or capriciously.
As the Board controls the profession of cricketers, its actions are required to be judged and viewed by higher standards...keeping in view the public good as also the welfare of the sport of cricket. It is, therefore, wholly undesirable that a body in-charge of controlling the sport of cricket should involve in litigations completely losing sight of the objectives of the society.