India's supreme court has dismissed the head of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) for refusing to introduce reforms recommended by a judicial committee.
A panel of Supreme Court judges said on Monday that BCCI president Anurag Thakur and its number two Ajay Shirke must stand down immediately and "desist from any board functions from here on".
The court also asked Thakur and Shirke why they should not be issued a notice for perjury and contempt after the board failed to follow through with orders to reform.
For me, it was not a personal battle. It was a battle for the autonomy of the sports body.
Thakur, who has until January 19 to reply to the contempt notice, only took over as head of BCCI in May 2016.
In a video message posted on social media, Thakur indicated he would abide by the verdict while expressing bitterness at the decision.
"For me, it was not a personal battle. It was a battle for the autonomy of the sports body," said Thakur, who is a legislator for India's ruling Bharatiya Janata Party.
"I respect the Supreme Court, as any citizen should. Supreme Court judges feel that BCCI could do better under retired judges, I wish them all the best. I am sure Indian cricket will do well under their guidance."
The order comes after judges slapped restrictions on BCCI's accounts last year over its failure to implement a series of reforms recommended by a panel headed by a former top judge, Rajendra Mal Lodha.
The court said it would appoint a new committee later this month to run BCCI's business operations and those in charge must pledge to carry out reforms recommended by Lodha or "demit the post and cease to be office bearers".
Lodha was appointed in early 2015 to head up a committee to reform the running of Indian cricket in the wake of a corruption scandal that hit the Indian Premier League (IPL) - the board's lucrative and hugely popular Twenty20 competition.
The committee later made a number of sweeping recommendations, including a ruling that each of the country's states gets just one vote in the BCCI, and a maximum age limit of 70 be introduced for cricket administrators.
It also demanded government ministers and bureaucrats be kept out of cricket administration.
However, BCCI did not carry out all the reforms despite an order from the apex court in July last year that it was bound to make the recommended changes, culminating in Monday's court order to remove the top officials.
"If the BCCI was reluctant to accept the Supreme Court's July order these consequences were bound to follow," Lodha said in an interview with the NDTV news channel after Monday's court decision.
"I am sure that the game of cricket will be governed as well as ever. The Supreme Court order should work as a template for other sports organisations too. The majesty of law has worked."
India, the world's number one-ranked test team, is in the middle of a busy season with England set to play a one-day series later this month in advance of tours by Australia and Bangladesh.
Source: News agencies