The BCCI's approach towards the implementation of the recommendations of the Lodha Committee report came in for sharp rebuke from the Supreme Court on Wednesday. After going through the status report of the Lodha Panel on the follow-up action on its recommendations to clean up cricket administration in the country, the court slammed the powerful cricket body for creating impediments.
While the panel has sought drastic action in the form of removal of the top brass of the BCCI, the man who started it all has moved the court again. This time Aditya Prakash Verma, secretary of the unrecognised Cricket Association of Bihar, has requested the Apex Court to take up the review petition of the cricket body on an urgent basis.
"The review petition filed by the BCCI is still in defects with the registry and they are not pursuing it to be taken up for hearing," he said.
Verma — the original whistleblower in the matter (he would like to be identified as ‘petitioner’ only though) — whose legal battle against former BCCI chief N Srinivasan ultimately compelled the latter to step down, speaks to Firstpost on why the world’s richest cricket body is unwilling to implement the recommendations of the Lodha panel.
What made you urge the Supreme Court to take up the pending review petition of BCCI on an urgent basis?
The request was made to the Supreme Court through my lawyer because under the garb of review petition, the BCCI has stalled the process of implementation of the Lodha Panel’s recommendations. The BCCI filed the review petition in defect mode, and as a result there was progress in the hearing of it. It’s on the basis of our plea and that of panel’s status report that the bench headed by Chief Justice of India TS Thakur asked the cricket body to ‘fall in line’ and furnish reasons for their non-compliance until 6 October.
Why is the BCCI dilly-dallying with the implementation of recommendations, as Justice Lodha Committee has said in its status report?
It’s due to conflict of interests. BCCI—as a cricket administration body has been functioning since 1928 and many good people were in the body. But now, they (top brass) are treating BCCI as their fiefdom. There are some members who have been continuing on board for many decades. Don’t you think there are other capable people in the country to be on the board? Let new members get opportunity.
Do you agree with Lodha Panel’s recommendation to replace the top brass in BCCI?
Justice Lodha committee has recommended replacement of the top brass because they are having a misconception of being sole powerful and they are trying to confuse the court.
Blatantly violating Lodha committee’s directives, the BCCI went for new selections in the body — elected new secretary, appointed five members in the selection committee, etc by holding an AGM on 21 September. They were not supposed to do so.
I also object to Sunil Gavaskar’s statement. He said if teams do well in junior level, they get promoted like in the case of Chhattisgarh, which should be promoted as it did well at junior level. With due respect for him, I want to ask Gavaskar, why Bihar has been left out throughout these years, despite performing well. It was Gavaskar, who played Ranji Trophy final for Mumbai against Bihar in 1975-76. He shouldn’t forget that it was only due to the Supreme Court that he got to be the chief of IPL-7 in 2014. So, why this discrimination against some states?
You took up a legal battle against former BCCI chief N Srinivasan, who ultimately had to step down. What are you up to now?
My fight is against the discrimination by the BCCI towards some of the states like Bihar, etc. For decades, these states have not been given recognition. Every child in the country has the right to play cricket for his or her nation. If Maharashtra, Delhi or Karnataka has the recoginition from the board, why not Bihar? Despite being a financially poor body, Cricket Association of Bihar and I in person will fight till the end, to get Bihar and other deprived states its rights.
Don’t you think that the Supreme Court is over-reaching by issuing orders related to the game of cricket?
Supreme Court is neither interfering in the game of cricket nor with the rules of the game. It’s never against the BCCI; but it wants the body to be accountable and transparent in its functioning. Corruption has become rampant in BCCI and it needs to be cleaned.
What if the BCCI fails to respond by 6 October?
BCCI has to respond or else they will face criminal contempt of court. They may even face imprisonment.