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HC reserves orders on CSK plea challenging Lodha panel order

Chennai: The Madras High Court yesterday reserved orders on a petition filed by Chennai Super Kings challenging the orders of the Justice Lodha Committee suspending it for two years.

The First Bench, comprising Chief Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Justice T.S. Sivagnanam, reserved orders on the plea and said the petition filed by BJP leader Subramanian Swamy "is subject to the result of the present petition." The court had on December one rejected a plea by Swamy for an early hearing of his PIL challenging the suspension of CSK and Rajathan Royals from IPL and made it clear that it will come up on December 14 and 15, which was scheduled earlier.

When the petition filed by CSK challenging the orders of the Lodha Committee came up today, BCCI informed the Court that it has not recognized CSK as franchise for IPL. Senior counsel for BCCI A.L.Somayaji submitted that CSK Cricket Limited is only a brand name of the franchise owned by India Cements Limited. He submitted that the franchise agreement was between BCCI and India Cements and India Cements has no right to assign or delegate ownership-- even if it does it should be done with prior permission from BCCI.

He argued that CSK Cricket Limited which got transferred the ownership from India Cements Limited was not at all an aggrieved party and hence the liberty given by the Supreme Court that the aggrieved can approach the appropriate forum for remedy will not entitle CSK to file the petition. He submitted that BCCI is a society registered under the Tamil Nadu Societies Registration Act.

If at all punishment of suspension is to be challenged, it cannot be a subject matter of writ proceedings, because it is a punishment imposed on its member as disciplinary action as per bye-laws of BCCI,he said. He further argued that India Cements Limited was fully heard by Justice Lodha Committee as a franchise and "its unbecoming conduct was noticed by the Committee and at behest of the CSK Cricket Limited, the high court should not go into the validity of punishment imposed."

Senior Counsel Nalini Chidambaram, appearing on behalf of the Bihar Cricket Association, submitted that the petition filed by CSK was not at all maintainable as Justice Lodha Committee's records were not made available before this court. As serious allegations were levelled against the members of Lodha Committee such as personal bias, and non-application of mind, the Committee should have been impleaded as a party, she submitted.

Without impleading the committee as a party and not calling for records the petition was not maintainable, it was submitted. Senior Counsel for CSK, Duishyant Dave, submitted that the question of impleading Lodha Committee does not arise as it functioned on behalf of the BCCI. He argued that BCCI was part of the tripartite agreement involving BCCI, India Cements Limited and CSK Cricket Limited and Lodha Committee had stated in its report that its report would be binding on CSK Cricket Limited as well.

He further submitted that "so far CSK has paid Rs.70 crore to BCCI as franchisee fee which was accepted by it and Rajasthan Royals have paid Rs.26 crore and after receiving this they cannot say that we have no locus standi to question the report of Justice Lodha Committee."

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