Our edifice is built on a system of checks and balances. This sound principle dominates not just our parliamentary system of governance, but also our institutions, corporations, and various other bodies.
It is this principle that makes association, club or even housing society office-bearers wary of appropriating power. There are AGMs, elections, audits, and even the laws of the land to answer to. By and large this system seems to have served the nation well.
Thus when the Supreme Court Committee on Reforms in Cricket headed by Lodha in its Third Status Report submitted on 14 November seeks from the court the following direction in its point 8 (2): “Direct that all administrative and management matters be carried out by the CEO of the BCCI without advertence to the Office Bearers” there is a great deal of uneasiness.
Will the move create another ‘General Musharraf’? A Frankenstein. A law unto himself? That's the fear among cricket aficionados.
Of course the BCCI needs to be reformed and made into a super efficient, transparent body which would retain the nimbleness to adapt, promote, and protect Indian cricket. These, of course, would need the right sort of administrators, even if it is to be accepted that good administrators are at a premium in Indian sport.
Perhaps not coincidentally, Indian cricket faces its gravest threat from an emboldened ICC seeking ways and means to marginalise BCCI and at the same time strike at its hold over revenue rights. Already, the ICC has gone as far as ignoring the BCCI for its Working Group meeting in Singapore in September and for the Adelaide meeting this week. If the ICC finally clips BCCI’s powers, it could be a return to the pre-1990s era when Indian cricket administration was left grovelling in front of Australian and England administrators.
If the Lodha panel and the BCCI could present a united external front to stem the insidious threat from the ICC, even while sorting out the BCCI’s administrative imbroglio internally, it would hold Indian cricket in good stead for decades to come. However, for obvious reasons, it is unlikely that this would happen and Indian cricket might well be reduced to second class status once again.
It is indisputable that whoever tackles the ICC or other bodies for the various contracts that need to be in place soon, needs to have solid experience in negotiating with these folks.
This is where the checks and balances concept becomes so important. Had it been in place, those that permitted conflict of interest or FEMA violations in IPL or in the losses arising out of the Kochi franchise fiasco or the waiving of penalty from the West Indies board for abandoning a tour of India or surrendering Indian cricket’s hard-won rights at ICC, would never have gone scot free. The BCCI must ensure that these sort of excesses are never committed again and the Lodha panel should ensure that the concept of checks and balances are commendably fortified.
Of course the Lodha Committee, besides asking for the empowerment of CEO Rahul Johri, has sought in point 8 (3) Appointment of Mr GK Pillai, former Union Home Secretary as the Observer of the BCCI to supervise the administration of the BCCI by the CEO...
While seeking disqualification of several office-bearers of the BCCI and State Associations on one of the following grounds – Over 70 years of age, minister or government servant, holds any office or post in a sports or athletic association or federation apart from cricket, has been an Office Bearer of the BCCI for a cumulative period of nine years.
The Lodha panel in its Status Report point 5 states: While the day to day administration of the BCCI is presently carried out by the CEO and certain Managers who assist him in this regard, there would be a need to appoint an Observer who would guide the BCCI in its administration, particularly with reference to the award of contracts, transparency norms, audit, etc, for domestic, international and IPL cricket to be played hereafter. The Committee recommends that Mr GK Pillai, former Union Home Secretary be appointed as the Observer, with a power to appoint Auditor and all necessary secretarial staff, assistance and remuneration as may be determined appropriate by the Committee.
Peeved BCCI officials are right in asking what process was followed in selecting Pillai who, incidentally, was a government servant, the very sort the Lodha panel wanted to keep away from BCCI. Of course post retirement he was employed in various private limited corporates including venture capitalist IvyCap Ventures, Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Limited, Zuari Agro Chemicals Limited, Adani Ports and Special Economic Zone Limited and Data Security Council of India, among others, according to online portal indialegallive.
The Lodha panel, by identifying Pillai as BCCI observer, has thus sought to speed up the process of marginalising BCCI’s current office-bearers. It had sought to replace them even at the last SC hearing, but the Court had reserved orders and posted next hearing for 5 December. However it now seems like the Lodha panel wants change to happen much quicker.
Hopefully it will pay the same attention to process and checks and balances as it seeks of others. Surely Indian cricket deserves a fillip for the better.