New Delhi: How important is the 6.2.4 clause for the Board for Control of Cricket in India, asked the Supreme Court?
BCCI chief N Srinivasan who also owns IPL team Chennai Super Kings
It is a matter of life and death, replied the world's richest cricket board, arguing tinkering with the clause – which allows a BCCI official to wear multiple hats and have commercial interest in IPL and CLT20 – would mean a virtual collapse of the Indian Premier League (IPL).
Probably happy at the slam-dunk answer from the BCCI lawyer, Kapil Sibal, the judges instantly retorted: "Please justify".
Sibal argued back, saying it will impact many, present administrators, former administrators, former players (who were contracted as commentators) and even umpires.
"Even former administrators?" asked the judges.
"Yes," replied Sibal.
"In that case, tell us, one after one, who are the potential players, former players, current and former officials, who could be impacted," the judges asked Sibal?
The judges went a step further.
""For the purity of the game, if conflict of interest has to go, it will go. Heavens will not fall if administrators don't won teams. If the team goes, projects will not fall," they said.
The hint at IPL franchise Chennai Super Kings and its owner N Srinivasan, was amply clear. There were worries also for Rajasthan Royals.
Senior lawyer Rahul Mehra, appearing on behalf of Cricket Association of Bihar (CAB) in an intervention, has already cited several examples of conflict of interests of both current and former players.
In his petition, Mehra said the Indian skipper MS Dhoni was a part of this "conflict system", so were former players like Sunil Gavaskar and Ravi Shastri, who were contractually bound by the BCCI and meant to voice "only the board's point of view on contentious issues as DRS".
Joining Mehra on the issue was Rajeev Dhavan, who represented former BCCI president IS Bindra.
Dhawan said the clause – he called it a bombshell – must be examined. "This is the heart of the problem and this amendment gave rise to greed. If this is not dealt with, then all the problem would remain un-addressed."
Dhawan argued the BCCI had a "commercial and public interest and it can't be that the commercial interest should dominate over the public interest".
The judges – noting such concern – wanted to keep the slate clean. They continued: "The purity of the game is paramount, and it (the court) will do anything, including striking down rule 6.2.4 of the BCCI's Constitution, to keep cricket clean".
"BCCI needs to take it out of their minds that SC can't adjudicate on BCCI rules. Those aren't sacrosanct for us. You have to satisfy us as far as Rule 6.2.4 is concerned. We cannot gloss over this clause," the judges further said.
The barrage continued as the court asked the board to provide details if any other administrator too owned a team and what will be the consequences of striking down Rule 6.2.4.
"Apart from CSK, is there any other team which is run by an administrator and why? Give us a list of all contracts which will fall because of striking down Rule 6.2.4," the judges said during the two and a half hour trial.
Sibal has a lot of talking to do on Wednesday, the third straight day of arguments – for the first time – in the over 18-month case on IPL corruption.