Observing that it will order an inquiry, the Supreme Court Thursday expressed strong displeasure over the functioning of Hyderabad Cricket Association, led by former India skipper Mohammed Azharuddin, and the row on the issue of appointment of former apex court judge Justice Deepak Verma as the ombudsman.
“Cricket has gone somewhere else and politics has taken precedence,” a bench headed by Chief Justice N V Ramana said, adding that it may order an inquiry into the whole issue by a former apex court or high court judge.
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“We will appoint some good people, some retired judges of the Supreme Court or the High Court to conduct an inquiry. Let both the groups (of HCA) go…They will have to go out of the management. This needs a CBI inquiry. They want to drag even the judiciary,” said the bench which also comprised justices Surya Kant and Hima Kohli.
In a brief hearing conducted through physical mode, the CJI-led bench was irked over the turn of events in the HCA and even asked senior counsel Rakesh Khanna, appearing for one of the factions of the HCA, to convey Justice Verma not to pass any order as the ombudsman in view of the fact that his tenure has already come to an end.
“Please tell Justice Verma not to pass any orders. His tenure has come to end and despite that, he is passing orders…We will list it on Wednesday. Let us find out some names (of former judges for conducting the inquiry),” the bench said.
The top court was hearing two appeals filed by the Hyderabad Cricket Association and its member ‘Budding Star Cricket Club’ against an order of the Telangana High Court.
The high court, in its judgement of April 6, had set aside an order of a Hyderabad civil court to suspend the decision of the apex council of the Hyderabad Cricket Association (HCA) to appoint Justice Verma as Ombudsman-cum-Ethics Officer of the HCA.
While upholding the appointment of Justice Verma, the high court had severely faulted the HCA secretary, R Vijayanand, for “playing fraud to abuse the process of the court”.
The HCA has been divided over the appointment of Justice Verma as the ombudsman and a case was filed in the civil court by one ‘Budding Star Cricket Club’, which is affiliated to the HCA.
It was contended before the lower court that the resolution of the HCA apex council, in appointing Justice Verma, was without the authority of law.
It had contended that the decision of appointment could only be taken at the annual general body. Following this, the civil court had suspended the appointment of Justice Verma.
In revision, the Charminar Cricket Club, also affiliated to the HCA, contended in the High Court that the petitioner was in collusion with HCA secretary Vijayanand and was lacking in bona fides.
The High Court set aside the city court’s decision and had come down heavily on the secretary of the HCA while terming the litigation against the appointment of the ombudsman as a “collusive” one.
“It is clear that the Secretary of the 2nd respondent (HCA), having agreed to the appointment of Justice Deepak Verma as Ombudsman and Ethics Officer in the meeting of the Apex Council held on June 6, 2020, which was ratified in the subsequent meeting of the Apex Council held on August 13, 2020, tried to sabotage the said appointment by setting up the 1st respondent to file the O.P. giving the incorrect address of 2nd respondent…,” the high court had said.
It is clear that HCA Secretary, has agreed to a particular decision in the Apex council meeting, later “clandestinely” arranged another meeting on the same behind the back of the President Mohammed Azharuddin, got passed another resolution and deliberately misled the court below in getting the appointment of ombudsman stayed, the high court had said.