Board of Control for Cricket v. Cricket Association of Bihar

In yet another judgement, the Supreme Court held that the BCCI did not come under the ambit of 'State' under Article 12. Read this case analysis to understand the Court's reasoning behind the same.
CITATION(2016) 8 SCC 535
COURTSupreme Court of India
JUDGES/CORAMJustice T.S. Thakur, Justice Fakir Kalifulla


This famous case deals with the powers and functions of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) and dealt with the question as to the role of BCCI as a ‘State’ under Article 12 of the Constitution of India.


The facts of the case are as follows: In 2007, the BCCI took the decision of inaugurating Indian Premier League (IPL) and on 27th of September 2008 Mr N. Srinivasan was appointed as the Secretary of the Board and simultaneously the BCCI amended its Regulation 6.2.4 with intent to not include IPL and Champions League T20 in its purview. 

In 2013 the Delhi Police had acted upon information received of spot-fixing in IPL and charges were levied against the owners of two teams: Rajasthan Royals and Chennai Super kings. Raj Kundra was the owner of Rajasthan Royals while Gurunath Meiyappan of Chennai Super Kings; Meiyappan was also the son-in-law of N. Srinivasan (Secretary of BCCI).

BCCI constituted a committee headed by Shri Sanjay Jagdale and two retired judges of Madras High Court to investigate into the matter.

A PIL was filed by Cricket Association of Bihar before the Bombay High Court seeking the constitution of committee to be declared ultra-vires of the Constitution of India and sought the appointment of retired Supreme Court judges in the panel. They also prayed for termination of contract of IPL franchisee Chennai Super Kings and Rajasthan Royals with BCCI and initiation of disciplinary proceedings against N. Srinivasan.

The Court in an order dated 30.07.2013 declared constitution of Probe Commission in contravention to Provisions 2.2 and 6 of IPL operational rules.The High Court however denied relief in the form of constitution of commission consisting of retired judges.

An appeal was filed before the Supreme Court by the Appellant board. Meanwhile, the matter came before the Supreme Court on the 8.10.2013 and in the meanwhile, N. Srinivasan had become president of BCCI. The Apex Court constituted a Committee under the supervision of Justice Mukul Mudgal to intervene into the alleged match fixing allegations surfacing the IPL.

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The main issues in the case were:

  1. Whether or not BCCI was ‘State’ under Article 12 of the Constitution of India and if not, whether it was amenable to the writ jurisdiction of the High Court under Article 226 of the Constitution of India.
  2. Whether or not Amendment to Rule 6.2.4 of IPL regulations was, to the extent it permitted administrators to have commercial interest in the IPL, Champions League and Twenty-20 events, illegal.

Summary of court decision and judgment

In relation to the first issue, the Court relied upon the principles penned in the cases of  R.D. Shetty v Union of India[1] and Ajay Hasia v Khalid Mujib[2]in order to decide that BCCI was not ‘State’ within the ambit of Article 12 of the Constitution of India. The Court took into account the principles of absence of “deep and pervasive control and lack of substantial government funding”; to rule out BCCI as ‘State’ under Article 12 of the Constitution of India, as was followed in R.D. Shetty’s case.

In the process, the Court re-affirmed its decision in the case of Zee Telefilms v Union of India[3]; wherein the Court had declared BCCI to be a non-state entity, amenable under the writ jurisdiction of the High Court’s under Article 226 of the Constitution of India and discharging functions of public importance.

In other words the answer to the first issue was in negative as Court excluded BCCI from the definition of the word ‘State’ under Article 12 of the Constitution. However, the Court observed that the BCCI even though not a ‘State’ under Article 12, the BCCI did perform certain public functions like selection of the team to represent the country in international arena and had a complete sway on the game of cricket which made it amenable to the writ jurisdiction of the High Court under Article 226.

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The Court on the next issue on amendment of Regulation of 6.2.4 which enunciated that, “except Indian Premier League and Champions League Twenty 20, no administrator, officer, player or umpire shall have any direct or indirect commercial interest in the matches or events conducted by the board”, observed that,

An amendment which strikes at the very essence of the game as stated in the Anti-Corruption Code cannot obviously co-exist with the fundamental imperatives. Conflict of interest situation is a complete anti-thesis to everything recognized by BCCI as constituting fundamental imperatives of the game hence unsustainable and impermissible in law

which means that the Court held that the amendment done by the BCCI was contradicting its own fundamental principles and rules thus could not be permissible in law.


Article 12 of Constitution of India which defines the word ‘State’ as: ‘In this part, unless the context otherwise requires, “the State” includes the Government and Parliament of India and the Government and the Legislature of each of the States and all local or other authorities within the territory of India or under the control of the Government of India.’

The Court in R. D. Shetty’s case held that there is no cut and dried formula which would provide the correct division of corporations into those which are instrumentalities or agencies of Government and those which are not. The Court enumerated the following five factors, which would determine whether a body comes under the definition of State as defined in Article 12 of the Constitution:

  1. Financial assistance given by the State and magnitude of such
  2. Any other forms of assistance whether of the usual kind or extraordinary.
  3. Control of management and policies of the corporation by the State – nature and extent of control.
  4. State conferred or State protected monopoly status and
  5. Functions carried out by the corporation, whether public functions closely related to governmental functions, would determine whether a corporation is an instrumentality or agency of the State or not.

Depending upon the above mentioned points the Court in this case ruled out the BCCI from the purview of it being an ‘Instrumentality of the State’. However, these tests are not definitive as has been time and again specified by the Court.

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The decision of the Court to set up a committee to monitor and investigate into the matter of spot fixing and the structure of BCCI is of great importance as the BCCI being responsible for regulating one of the most followed sport of the country and a balance has to be struck with historical reality and the need for adopting a pragmatic, uniform and principled approach aimed at reforming and rationalizing BCCI’s structural edifice.

The author opines that any conflict of interest of people associated or related in any way to the BCCI cannot be accepted as it would go against the purpose of cricket operations in India. That being said I would also like to mention that merely taking action against BCCI officials or people related with it cannot be sufficient in order to induce transparency into the sport.

As mentioned earlier the tests laid in many cases to determine whether a body is a ‘State’ under Article 12 is neither conclusive nor definitive. Thus, the reluctance of the Supreme Court to include BCCI under the purview of Article 12 is the primary reason behind the unregulated powers exercised by BCCI and people related to it. One other major reason for such problems is lack of proper legislations governing the sport (cricket) which gives space for corruption and lack of accountability in the administration of the sport in this country.


As mentioned above the BCCI is one of the oldest bodies regulating one of the most followed sports of the Country thus proper regulations, laws and framework must be made in India to monitor its functioning and to bring accountability upon the officials functioning in the Board and exercising powers. For this to happen I suggest the BCCI to be included as an Instrumentality of the state and to be brought under the term ‘ State’ mentioned in article 12 of the Constitution.

[1]AIR 1979 SC 1628.

[2]AIR 1981 SC 487.

[3]AIR 2005 SC 2677.