The Supreme Court on Tuesday came down heavily on the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), saying that its mandate was to promote cricket in the country but it had done nothing to develop it.
The apex court was hearing BCCI’s affidavit on the implementation of Lodha Committee’s recommendations
The three-member committee, headed by former Chief Justice Lodha and including retired Supreme Court judges Ashok Bhan and R Raveendran, had been formed in January 2015 in the wake of the Justice Mudgal Committee report which called for reforms within BCCI. The Mudgal committee had gone into state of affairs of the BCCI following the 2013 IPL betting and spot-fixing charges. The Mudgal committee had also gone through conflict of interest issues among Board members and others connected with the game.
Among other things, the Lodha Committee had recommended a one-state-one-vote policy, legalising of betting, banning of advertisements in between overs during cricket telecast, age-limit for BCCI office-bearers, a players association funded by BCCI, bringing BCCI under RTI and ban of politicians and bureaucrats from the BCCI hierarchy.
Many of the BCCI’s affiliated units had filed affidavits on their objections to some of the recommendations.
But the mood of the apex court on Tuesday was revealing.
Its charge that the BCCI had done nothing to develop the game caught everyone on the backfoot. Particularly as it was widely believed that the game was in a healthier state in India only because of the BCCI’s proactive policies which included numerous age-group and grassroot-level competitions, coaching camps and talent identification systems. The National Cricket Academy and various other academies too promoted and harnessed young talent, it was felt, and the fact that other countries like West Indies, Pakistan, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and New Zealand did not have even a fraction of these schemes was fairly widely accepted.
The court today was scathing when it said that the members of BCCI had created a “mutually beneficial society”. The BCCI was also slammed for the way it distributed funds to its affiliated units.
The SC said that the board should have distributive justice.
“BCCI must have distributive justice. Why are 11 states penniless? Why should these states go begging?
“If Gujarat gets Rs 66 crore then why should the northeastern states get only Rs 50 lakh.
“The impression one gets is that once the BCCI gives money to state boards without any rationale for spending, they in a way corrupt them,” it said.
The SC further stated: “Are the state allocations made after looking at people’s face in the cricket board?
“Out of 29 states 11 are begging for money, this is not good. You allot money without demanding explanation which is basically corrupting them,” the judges told the Board’s lawyers.
Chief Justice of India TS Thakur said: “How do you expect neglected states to develop if you don’t give them money? For six years, not a penny has been given to Bihar. You have done nothing to promote the game.”
The BCCI responded saying: “We have started activities in Union Territories to promote the game. We gave help to all affiliate and associate members apart from full members. Arunachal Pradesh and Bihar did not give audited accounts. That’s why they did not get funds from 2010.”
The BCCI also contested the one-state-one-unit policy suggested by the Lodha panel stating that Gujarat and Maharashtra states have multiple full members.
“Some members are old and they are founding members like Saurashtra, Baroda, Mumbai. So these cannot be removed,” the BCCI said.
The Supreme Court will further take up BCCI’s affidavit on Friday.