New Delhi, March 5 (PTI): The Supreme Court today sought the Centre’s response on a PIL seeking removal of Assam Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma from the post of President of the Badminton Association of India (BAI), alleging that his appointment was in violation of the apex court order that a minister or a public servant cannot become an office bearer in a sports body. A bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud issued notice to the Centre asking it to file a response within eight weeks after which it will hear the matter again. Senior advocate Shanti Bhushan, appearing for petitioner Kamlesh Verma, a Delhi resident, alleged that Sarma was facing graft charges in the Saradha chit fund scam and had been summoned by CBI in the matter. He said that as per Justice R M Lodha committee recommendations on reforms in the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), there was a bar on ministers and civil servants and those above 70 from becoming its member. The petition has sought a direction to appoint a committee of administrators, as done by the top court in the case of BCCI in 2016, to ensure smooth functioning of BAI. It has also sought the court’s direction to supersede other office-bearers of BAI with immediate effect and call for relevant records pertaining to sports body’s financial transactions ever since Sarma took charge as its President. The apex court had on July 18, 2016 accepted Justice Lodha committee recommendations on reforms in the BCCI. Sarma, Assam’s finance minister and a prominent BJP leader in the region, was appointed BAI President on April 23 last year after its then President Akhilesh Das Gupta died during his tenure. “At present, BAI is headed by a person (Sarma) who is an active politician from the ruling party in the Centre. He is not only Member of Legislative Assembly but also a Minister in the State Government of Assam and holding other important posts in the Party. As far as the Petitioner knows, he has never been a badminton player at any level and thus, he has no connection whatsoever with the sport of badminton. “Apart from being an active politician, having no connection with Badminton, he is facing corruption charges too and one of them is relating to Saradha chit fund scam in which he had been summoned by CBI and his house was also raided by CBI in this regard,” the plea said. It said the appointment of Sarma as the President of BAI and also his continuance was “in violation of Rule of Law and completely arbitrary, and therefore, in violation of Article 14 of the Constitution.” The petition sought an ex-parte order for appointment of a Committee to look after all the affairs of the BAI for the welfare of the players, transparent financial management and good administration.
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