Laying down new criteria to be elected as an officer-bearer with the Board of Control of Cricket in India (BCCI), the Lodha Committee on Monday recommended that no minister or government servant can be elected to the cricket board.
The Supreme Court-appointed Lodha Committee recommended sweeping reforms for the controversy-ridden BCCI, most important of which was suggesting a bar on ministers from occupying positions along with putting a cap on the age and tenure of the office-bearers.
"As regards the office bearers of BCCI - president, VP, secretary, joint secretary and treasurer - certain eligibility criteria has been fixed. He must be an Indian, he must not be above age of 70, he must not be insolvent, he must not be a minister or government servant, and who has not held office in the BCCI for a cumulative period for nine years," said Justice Lodha in what is sure to be the biggest talking point of the committee's report.
He added that each office bearer will have a tenure of three years and no office bearer can hold the office for more than three terms with the rider that there will be a cooling off after each term - in other words no office bearer can hold two terms consecutively to account for a 'cooling period.'
The other big recommendation comes in the form bringing BCCI under of the purview of Right to Information (RTI) Act - an issue that has long been a bone of contention with the cricket body.
Among the most sensational recommendation by Lodha panel was the suggestion to legalize betting. The panel felt that the move would help curb corruption in the game and recommended that except for players and officials, people should be allowed to place bets on registered sites.
Addressing a crowded press conference after submitting a 159-page report to the Supreme Court, which will decide whether these recommendations would be binding on the BCCI, Lodha said he held 38 meetings with Board officials, cricketers and other stakeholders.
The committee proposed that Indian Premier League (IPL) and the BCCI should have separate governing bodies, along with a host of other recommendations for the governance of BCCI to the Supreme Court.
The three-member committee comprising Justice (Retd) RM Lodha, Justice (Retd) Ashok Bhan and Justice (Retd) RV Raveendran submitted the report to Supreme Court on restructuring of the BCCI and reiterated that these are not legally binding on the BCCI as yet. That order will have to come from the apex court.
"Some of the things we discussed with Shashank Manohar, he immediately put those into action. First thing we did was interact with BCCI officials -- all except the President and Secretary appeared (both responded to questionnaire)" Justice Lodha said in the press conference, adding that a lot of former India captains were also provided with an opportunity to respond to the questionnaire.
Key points of the reforms suggested by Justice Lodha and his committee:
* One state, one cricket body: One association of each state will be a full member and have right to vote. The committee said one unit should represent one state, while taking away the voting rights of institutional and city-based units.
* A person cannot be a BCCI office-bearer and a state association office-bearer at the same time.
* CEO-run organisation: Committee also suggested the restructuring of the BCCI's administrative set-up, proposing the position of a CEO accountable to a nine-member apex council. An apex council for the BCCI comprising 9 members, of which 5 should be elected, 2 should be representatives of players association, and one woman. CEO to be assisted by 6 professional managers and the team of CEO and managers will be accountable to the apex council.
* Under RTI: To ensure transparency in its functioning, important to bring the body under the purview of the Right to Information Act, something that the Board has vehemently opposed in the past citing its autonomy. "Since the BCCI performs public functions, people have the right to know the functions and facilities and other activities of the BCCI...We have recommended the legislature must seriously consider bringing BCCI within the purview of the RTI Act," Lodha said.
* Formation of a players' association: This will be formed by a steering committee, headed by former Home Secretary G K Pillai, and comprising former captains Mohinder Amarnath and Anil Kumble along with women's legend Diana Edulji. The committee said that the players' association will include all those who have played first-class cricket. Also, a robust agent registration system to safeguard players interests to be formed.
* IPL revamp: The committee called for IPL and BCCI to have separate governing bodies. IPL Governing Council will comprise nine members. The Secretary and the Treasurer of the BCCI will be ex-officio members of this IPL governing council. Two other members of the IPL Governing Council will be nominated/elected by the full members. Of the remaining five, two will be the nominees of franchises, one will be a representative of the players association (so one needs to be formed), one will be a nominee of the Comptroller and Auditor General of India's office.
* Independent authorities: The committee suggested three authorities to help with the BCCI governance as follows:
- An ombudsman - who's duty would be to preside internal disputes resolution mechanism, dispute between BCCI and members, BCCI and associates, breaches by administrators, players, team officials - to be appointed. The committee proposed that he be a former judge of the Supreme Court or a Chief Justice of High Court.
- An ethics officer - whose task is to administer the issues relating to the conflict of interest, misdemeanour, misbehaviour or corruption issues - to be appointed. The committee suggested that be a former High Court judge.
- An Electoral Officer, who would oversee the entire election process related to the office bearers, namely prep of voters list, issues of eligibility of office bearers etc. The officer will be nominated weeks before the date of election.
* Former IPL COO Sundar Raman cleared of all corruption charges. Read more on that here.
* Senior selection committee to be made up of former international Test cricketers, with the most capped former player among the three being the chairman. Other selection committees to comprise only three members.
* Recommendation made to legalize betting (with strong safeguards), except for those covered by the BCCI and IPL regulations. Also, to make spot-fixing a criminal offence.
What Justice Lodha said:
On the player's association: "Most of the players who have played first-class, both men and women, and who have retired from competitive cricket will be in this association. This association shall be assigned functions and will be constituted and run with the financial support of the BCCI. However, they will not act as a minion. The idea is to give players voice, use their
expertise and skills for the development and betterment of the game."
On the overall revamp: "First thing is about the structure and the constitution. As you know, presently the BCCI has 30 full members. Some of these members do not have any territory like Services, Railways etc. Some of them do not play tournaments. Some of the states have multiple members like Maharashtra has three, Gujarat has 3. With the interactions we had, except few it was broadly represented to us that one state as a unit of representation in BCCI is a very fair idea"
On IPL Governing Council: "The Governing Council of IPL will be entitled to take all decisions concerning IPL, which includes the decision relating to financial matters. However, Governing Council will be answerable to the General body of the BCCI. So limited autonomy is proposed for the IPL GC."
On better management of grants to state associations: "We have recommended a uniformity in the structure and constitution of state associations, like the associations must not have office for life, or office for more than nine years ... separation of social and cricket activities in the state associations, no proxy voting. Their accounts must be audited by the BCCI to maintain transparency in functioning. They must comply with all the directives of the BCCI in putting in place issues such as resolution of conflict of interest, administering the code of conduct, behaviour, and corruption issues. Any breach of the directives by state associations would dis-entitle them from the grant of the subsidy and other grants from the BCCI."
Background to the Lodha committee reforms report:
In September, BCCI secretary Anurag Thakur and IPL chairman Rajeev Shukla deposed before the Supreme Court appointed Justice (Retd) RM Lodha Commission on the possible reforms that the board is expected to carry out once the second part of report was released. It was learnt that the both the senior BCCI officials had a fruitful discussions with the panel.
Earlier in July, the Lodha Committee recommended two-year suspension of Chennai Super Kings and Rajasthan Royals from the cash-rich Indian Premier League.
Tainted CSK Team principal and ICC chairman N Srinivasan's son-in-law Gurunath Meiyappan was handed a life-ban for indulging in illegal betting activity during 2013 IPL along with former Rajasthan co-owner Raj Kudra.
With agency inputs