If we thought we had reached the slog overs of a one-day international, we were mistaken. We may well be watching a timeless Test. And in the case of the Board of Control for Cricket in India unrelenting about bringing in constitutional change despite a Supreme Court order on 18 July, 2016, everyone seems to be digging in to play long innings.
The fact that the Supreme Court has not restored the Committee of Administrators (CoA) to a four-member team is perhaps an indication that it will take longer than envisaged for BCCI to finally make the changes and ensure that cricket, especially domestic cricket, does not suffer for want of leadership.
It is interesting that on Wednesday, the Supreme Court did not accept the CoA recommendation to sack the three key BCCI office-bearers for non-compliance. Instead, Acting President CK Khanna, Acting Secretary Amitabh Choudhary and Treasurer Anirudh Chaudhry have been asked to explain why the Supreme Court order of 18 July, 2016 has not been implemented.
That is not the only place where the CoA’s enthusiasm appears to have been brushed aside. In its fifth Status Report, it prayed Supreme Court for directions to conduct elections in State Associations, establish a new funds disbursement policy, form a committee to conduct forensic audit of each State Association.
In what appears to be a case of reinventing the wheel, the Supreme Court Bench including Justice Dipak Misra, Justice A M Khanwilkar and Justice DY Chandrachud directed CoA to get BCCI’s response to the proposed Constitution. The CoA’s argument that it had already sent the proposed constitution to BCCI three times and drawn a blank did not find favour with the Court.
It is tough to comprehend why none of the counsels in the Bar gently reminded the Bench that the Court had already rejected the BCCI claim that principles of natural justice had not been followed. And that the Court had already dealt with BCCI’s objections during the hearing as noted in its order of 18 July, 2016.
It may help to revisit that order.
“It is noteworthy that neither the BCCI nor the interveners have found fault with the revised Memorandum of Association as proposed by the Committee. What has come under attack both from the BCCI and the intervenors, aggrieved of the recommendations are the Rules and Regulations proposed by the Committee,” it said.
In that order, the Supreme Court dwelled upon some points that BCCI had raised in an affidavit, including one state one vote, restricting advertisements during a broadcast, a nominee of the Comptroller and Auditor General of India in the BCCI Apex Council, restrictions on Ministers and public servants in BCCI.
The 18 July, 2016 order also paid a lot of attention to the BCCI objection to the One State One Vote rule. The Court refuted the demand that Services, Railways and Universities be allowed to retain full member status (and therefore have voting rights); And, it suggested that the affiliated units in Maharashtra and Gujarat adopt a rotational basis for full membership on an annual basis.
It saw no compelling reason to reject the recommendation which disqualifies Ministers and public servants from holding offices in the State Associations or BCCI. And, it rejected what it called as unfounded the criticism against the recommendation to have a representative of the CAG in the Apex Council.
In passing that order last year, the Supreme Court also noted the BCCI took objection to the Lodha Committee not giving it the chance to counter each of the suggested changes before presenting them to the Court. “There is, in our opinion, no merit in the submission,” the Court order said.
“The task assigned to the Committee was to examine the issues set out in the order and make suitable recommendations in that regard… The report submitted by the Committee is recommendatory in nature and does not ipso facto oblige BCCI to accept the changes suggested therein unless so directed by the Court,” it said.
It is for this reason that the Court’s decision to have the CoA seek BCCI’s feedback on the proposed constitution comes across as baffling. Then again, this case is not some ‘timeless’ Test that frustrates fans with rain-induced breaks. This is a matter of great importance and the Supreme Court has devoted so much time to it in the past three years.
Perhaps, those anticipating drastic changes in the BCCI approach will do well to revise expectations by lowering them. But cricket watchers cannot help wondering if some inertia will set in as far as the domestic season is concerned. Those who are eager to see the changes being ushered in may well have to gather more patience and wait for action.
It is almost as if one is watching a batsman send for a pair gloves, then ask for a change of bat, settle down to take guard only for him to ask for an adjustment of the sightscreen. And when the batsman is ready, the fielding captain takes his time in either changing the bowler or the field placements. Hopefully, the umpires will ensure that there no further loss of time.