• Legis Scriptor


Authored by Muskan Jain

Keywords:- BCCI, public functions, State, public interest litigation (PIL)


The idea to set up a cricket organisation began in India in the late World War I and the cricket game was very common in India even before that; the Maharaja of Patiala was a cricket team led in India. Because of the large popularity of the game in India, a provincial board set up in 1927, and by the creation of the BCCI, that provincial body was dissolved in 1928. In the next year BCCI affiliated to ICC, granting it an affiliated status as the international representative body for the Indian cricket.

The case which we will discuss, the Supreme Court investigated into the public functions performed by BCCI in order to decide whether BCCI is an instrumentality of State under the term ‘other authorities’ under the Article 12 so as to invoke Article 32 against BCCI. By applying the previous precedents on the matter, Supreme Court refused to recognise BCCI as a ‘state’ under Article 12, but at the same time recognized the public functions performed by it. In this regard, law experts considered this decision as a stepping stone for bringing BCCI under the definition of ‘State’ under Article 12. However, it also criticised that Article 12 of the Constitution had limited the scope of 'State’.


Article 12 of the Indian Constitution states that,

“Definition 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.”[1]

The value of Article 12 lies in the fact that the Article 12 falls under the fundamental rights of Article 32[2] and Article 226[3] of the Constitution protected by Part III which grants recourse against any violation. This recourse is essential because it enables the involved parties to have a sense of closure, who might otherwise feel that they have no place to turn in the event of breach of their legal rights.

The present discussion will revolve around a famous judgment on January 22, 2015 titled as BCCI Vs. Cricket Association of Bihar and others - Civil Appeal No. 4235 of 2014 delivered by a two judge bench of the Supreme Court of India. One of the many issues that were to be discussed was whether the BCCI was a "state."

Background of the case

Cricket is for millions in this region of the country. Many cricket fans and followers of the game remain worried and strongly questioned as to what happens on behalf of the match, leading to allegations of malpractices and conflict of interest against those who not only occupy positions of authority in BCCI, but are their own franchises and teams playing in the IPL game. The truth is that the lower the tolerance rate for violations, the higher is people's perception of the system. And cricket, as not only a passion in this country but a big uniting power, can satisfy the need for cleaning a zero tolerance of any misdeed alone.

In 2007 the BCCI agreed to open the Indian Premier League (IPL) and agreed to appoint Mr N. Srinivasan as secretary to the BCCI in a follow-up meeting held on 27 September 2008, and in the same meeting the BCCI amended its regulation 6.2.4 with the objective to exclude IPL and Champions League T20 from its jurisdiction. Police from Delhi received information about the IPL spot fixing in April 2013 and the charges have been levied. The BCCI formed a probe committee chaired by two retired judges. The Cricket Association of Bihar subsequently filed a PIL before the High court of Bombay. Cricket Association of Bihar appealed the Supreme Court after being disappointed by the judgement of the High Court.


· The BCCI in 2007 decided to launch the Indian Premier League ( IPL).

· In April 2013, Delhi police received information regarding spot fixing in IPL and charger were levelled under section 420[4]and 120-B[5] of the Indian Penal Code, 1860.

· In 2013, before the High Court of Bombay two PIL's were filed by the Cricket Association of Bihar.

· A writ of mandamus was presented before the petitioner requesting the Court to direct the BCCI to recall its order constituting a probe committee comprising two retired Judges of the Madras High Court to enquire into the allegations of betting and spot fixing in the IPL made against Raj Kundra, owner of Rajasthan Royals; and Gurunath Meiyappan, son in-law of N. Srinivasan.

· Petitioner seeks for an appointment of the Retired Supreme Court Judges in Panel of Probe Committee.

· Petitioner also requested for termination of Contract of IPL franchisees Chennai super King and Rajasthan Royals with BCCI and initiation of disciplinary proceeding against N. SRINIVASAN ( Current BCCI President).

· Based on the Bombay High Court decision, three appeals were filed before the Supreme Court.

· Cricket Association of Bihar were filed two appeals and one by the BCCI. All the appeals were heard and settled jointly.

· Therefore, Cricket association of Bihar then appealed to the Supreme Court after being not satisfied by the decision of the High Court.


1. Whether BCCI is state under Article 12 of the Indian Constitution?

2. If not, whether it is amenable to writ jurisdiction of the High Court under Article 226 of the Constitution of India?


1. In the first issue, a two judge bench consisting of Justice T.S Thakur and Justice F.M. Ibrahim Kalifullagive the reference of the case Zee Telefilms Ltd. and Anr. v. Union of India and Ors. (2005)[6] 4 SCC 649 where the court held that BCCI was not ‘State within the meaning of Article 12 with the majority of 3:2. This court held that the Board was not created by any statue nor was a part of the government's share capital .Practically, there was financial assistance provided by the government to the boardand even when the Board did enjoy a monopoly status in the field of cricket such status was not granted by state or even secured by the state. So there is also no inevitable state control. The control, if any, is only regulatory in nature as applicable to other related bodies. All functions of the board are not public functions nor are they closely related to governmental functions. The Board is not created by transfer of a government – owned corporation and was an autonomous body.

2. In the second issue, relying upon the tests laid down in Pradeep Kumar Biswas's case[7], court held that, in order to bring it within the word 'State' specified in Article 12 of the Constitution, the Board was not governed financially, technically or administratively by or subject to control by the Government. After referring the above case, in the current case court held that while the BCCI is not ‘State’ within the context of Article 12 but it is amenable to the writ jurisdiction.


BCCI has emerged as the largest and richest sports organization in India and worldwide after a liberalised policy with the emergence of IPL in particular. It governs cricket games at each level in India and makes rules and regulations that focus upon whole aspects of cricket games in India. In this case, the Supreme Court’s judgement in BCCI v. Cricket Association of Biharwas addressed which ruled that BCCI was not amenable to writ in infringement of fundamental rights under Article 32, and instead was entitled to Article 226 which could be applied if any statute, including fundamental rights were breached. Through this judgement it was made clear that in the light of limitless and massive powers that it holds in the field of cricket, it was seen that the Board performs public functions and not only this but it also has tacit consent of the government as all the activities it performs gets support from Government of India.


Foot Notes: [1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6] [7]