April 7, 2022

Himachal High Court

Vijyender Sharma

Shimla-----The High Court of Himachal Pradesh, in a matter pertaining to Age Verification Programme, for Under-19 age group, has directed the Board of Control for Cricket in India, to devise a mechanism by which the alleged menace of production of forged date of birth certificates by players can be stopped, which practice according to the petitioner, is rampant for quite some time. The Court has further directed BCCI to take such decision within six months.

The Division Bench comprising the Chief Justice Mohammad Rafiq and Justice Jyotsna Rewal Dua, passed this order on a writ petition filed by one Suresh Kumar in the year 2019, (minor that time), through his father-Dole Ram. The petitioner had challenged the communication dated 22.07.2015 and also the BCCI Age Verification Programme 2015-16, whereby eligibility for Under-19 age group for the purpose of age determination has been kept as per the Government issued birth certificates as primary evidence and ancillary evidence, such as school and hospital records. The petitioner had prayed to direct the respondents to revert to the BCCI protocol being followed before issuance of aforesaid impugned communication, whereby in case of a player, who has already participated in the Under-16 tournament on the basis of TW3 bone test, his age calculated as per the TW3 bone age test, may be considered to be the basis for determining his age and the age so determined may be carried forwarded by adding one year per season for Under-19 and Under-23 age group cricket tournaments, respectively.

Further, the petitioner had prayed that the respondents may be directed to fix the cut-off date of eligibility for playing Under-16, Under-19 and Under-23 as 1st April instead of 1st September of every year, as the advertisement, which is issued in March/April, makes the players born from 1st April to 31st August ineligible for playing under the age group category tournament and only the players born from 1st September to 31st March are only eligible. This arbitrary fixation of cut-off date, according to the petitioner, has shortened his eligibility period to seven months only instead of twelve months.

The petitioner had made very serious allegations alleging that the method adopted by the respondents for determination of age and fixation of cut-off date is breeding corruption and is giving rise to preparation/production of forged date of birth certificates in a big way. This situation has also been taken note of and acknowledged by many international players.

The Counsel appearing for respondent BCCI submitted that the petitioner should approach BCCI, as the method of determination of age as also about the cut-off date and the decision, which the BCCI would take, would have PAN India ramifications.

The Court directed the BCCI to treat the writ petition alongwith its enclosures as representation of the petitioner, to examine the issues, some of which are really important and pertinent.

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