The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has done it again. Just when it seemed as if the all-powerful board was starting to clean itself up in recent months following an overhaul in personnel, as well as the formation of the Supreme Court-appointed Committee of Administrators (CoA), they have found a way to dodge the reforms suggested by the Lodha panel.
The Supreme Court passed its verdict on 18 July, 2016, accepting the majority of the reforms suggested by the three-member panel headed by Justice RM Lodha, which paved way for a major revamp in the board. While the judgment was in itself a remarkable one, dominating headlines for the next few days as many hailed it to be the beginning of a new chapter in Indian cricket, the path towards its implementation was filled with hurdles.
In the special general meeting (SGM) held on Monday, the BCCI decided to form a new committee that would oversee "how best and quickly" the principal Supreme Court order can be executed, according to the announcement made by the acting secretary to the board, Amitabh Choudhary. In a meeting which was attended by controversial former BCCI supremo N Srinivasan, the board failed to come up with a decisive call that the CoA had expected from the meeting.
This development can certainly be viewed as another stalling tactic on the part of the board, and certainly isn't the first time they've tried to drag their feet on the issue. Take a look at how the richest organisation in the world of cricket has been playing hide-and-seek with the Supreme Court since the latter's landmark judgment:
Markandey Katju terms Lodha reforms "illegal": Barely a couple of weeks after the judgment by the apex court, the BCCI set up a legal panel headed by former Supreme Court judge Markandey Katju, with the panel supposedly being the only point of contact between the board and the Lodha panel.
"What the Supreme Court has done is unconstitutional and illegal. There has been violation of principles of the Constitution. Under our Constitution, we have legislature, executive and judiciary. There is a broad separation of functions. It's the legislature's prerogative to make laws. If judiciary starts making laws, one is setting a dangerous precedent," Katju said on 7 August, which was then followed by the BCCI filing a review petition against the Supreme Court's order.
Anurag Thakur seeks ICC's intervention: ICC chief executive Dave Richardson revealed in September last year that the then BCCI president Thakur had verbally requested the global governing body to send the board a letter asking them to clarify whether the Lodha reforms amounted to government interference. In other words, the BCCI wanted the ICC to shield them from the prospect of implementing the reforms. ICC president Shashank Manohar, however, refused to issue any such letter unless the BCCI formally made a request in writing.
"Mr Manohar said that the ICC should not write such a letter unless the BCCI first writes to the ICC requesting ICC to intervene or ICC receives a letter from another of its member board to do so but no such letters have been received.
"Without being formally requested to intervene, specially without the full consent of the ICC board. Don't forget... the consequences of the government interference could lead to the suspension of a member board and nobody really wants the BCCI to be suspended," Richardson was quoted as saying in a report on 12 September.
BCCI files fresh application against SC's order: The board filed an application in the Supreme Court shortly after the annual general meeting (AGM), asking for the 18 July verdict to be suspended until the apex court heard their petitions against the implementation of several reforms suggested by the Lodha panel.
"Grave and irreparable loss, harm and prejudice will be caused to the Applicant if the Application is not heard. It is, therefore, respectfully prayed that this Hon'ble Court may be pleased to pass an order suspending the implementation of the judgment dated 18.7.2016 till the review petition and curative petition are not heard by this Hon'ble Court," the BCCI affidavit stated.
The board misses its first deadline: The BCCI had been testing the apex court's patience ever since the 18 July verdict, and it got worse for the board when they missed the first deadline of 30 September, after the SGM that had been called on that day had to be adjourned on technical grounds — a few BCCI member units turning up for the meeting without the necessary letters of authorisation.
The board escalated things against them by appointing Ajay Shirke as its secretary, the selection committee among other important decisions taken in the AGM, which took place around the same time, in direct conflict with the Lodha panel's instructions.
The BCCI later adopted a few of the panel's recommendations, but ignored the crucial ones such as one-state-one-vote, the age cap of 70 years and the tenure limit of nine years with cooling-off periods in between.
BCCI continues to defy the panel's orders: Even though the pressure on them was growing in intensity with each passing week, the BCCI remained defiant in its opposition to a few important reforms suggested by the Lodha panel. At an emergency meeting in New Delhi on 15 October, the BCCI pointed towards 'practical difficulties' behind the delay in implementing the reforms. Despite the Lodha panel seeking the apex court's approval for the removal of several BCCI and state association office-bearers, the board remained defiant in its stance against the implementation of certain reforms in the SGM convened on 2 December.
It wasn't long before the Supreme Court struck an almighty blow by removing both Thakur and Shirke from the posts of the president and secretary respectively, and forming the CoA under former Comptroller adn Auditor General (CAG), Vinod Rai, later that month.