BCCI vs Lodha Committee: By forcing cricket board to toe the line, SC may open a Pandora's Box
The Supreme Court could pass a judicial order mandating reforms. But would that open a Pandora's Box, not in terms of the cricket board, but with regard to setting a precedent that could well affect all parties
The lack of transparency, whether in legislature, judiciary or executive, has widely been enunciated in the media. The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) too was dogged by this issue before the Supreme Court-appointed Lodha Committee sought to usher in transparency and accountability in its working.
On Monday, judgment day for the BCCI, when the Supreme Court could pass its judicial order, a brief recap of the major points is in order:
Public ire was against the cricket board, especially after the betting scandal involving erstwhile president N Srinivasan's son-in-law, principal by estoppel of IPL franchisee India Cements and some prominent owners of another franchisee, Rajasthan Royals. This ultimately triggered the setting up of the Lodha Committee to overhaul the BCCI and its functioning. Despite being repeatedly hauled over coals by the Supreme Court, the BCCI has only accepted some of the proposals of the Lodha report, and done so grudgingly.
1. Forming the apex council with modifications
2. Having player representatives (men and women) in the apex council
3. Induction of a representative of the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) and member of the apex council, as well as the IPL Governing Council
4. Formation of a players' association and their representation on the Committee
5. Giving voting rights to associate members
6. Puducherry to be granted associate membership as proposed in the timeline report
7. A code of conduct to be in place for players and team officials; implementing of anti-doping code, anti-racism code, anti-corruption code and operational rules for their implementation from the next IPL season
8. Agent registration norms of the timeline's report
9. BCCI members also drew attention to the fact that while it was their effort to ensure a 15-day gap between the national calendar and the IPL, it would not be possible in 2017 because of the ICC Champions Trophy being scheduled in England at around the same time
While the BCCI accepted the above proposals at its special general meeting on 1 October, it turned down some others, and sought dialogue for others. BCCI's opposition was to the following proposals:
1. The 70-year age limit for apex council members
2. One state one vote, which they pointed out, would deprive Mumbai Cricket Association — Indian cricket's powerhouse — of a vote, and potentially choke its funding cricket
3. Sidelining of Railways and Services
4. Limiting the tenure of board members with retrospective effect, and to having two blocks of three-years each with a cooling-off period in between. The BCCI said it was willing to accept this with prospective effect, but said the term should be two blocks of six years each with a cooling off period of three years in between.
These apart, the panel wanted the selection committee to be trimmed to three members, which the board felt was insufficient for India, considering it's a vast country where around 900 matches are played annually. Having just more selectors would enable them to travel better and get first-hand knowledge of talent and potential of players.
The board also pointed out that it was impossible for it to demand its state associations and affiliated units to implement restructuring within their fold on the lines of the Lodha Committee report.
The BCCI held that various associations were legally formed under different acts. Some were formed under the Registrar of Co-Operative Societies Act, while others under the Trusts or under Companies Act, etc. The BCCI itself was formed under the Societies Act of Tamil Nadu, and was bound by its guidelines.
KSCA, for instance, acknowledged as the best-run association in India, was formed under the State Cooperatives Act, and any amendment to its Memorandum of Association would require a three-fourths majority.
One member pointed out that anybody bringing in an amendment would need the support of over 1,300 members while those for status quo would require a mere 400-odd votes. Thus it was virtually impossible to build a consensus.
Another member asked why would they need to change the running of a model association? "There is plenty of cricketing infrastructure being created all over the state; plenty of cricket tournaments, talent scouting, coaching camps and of course lots of success in national level tournaments. The KPL is a great success and KSCA is throwing up a lot of young, exciting players. The accounts are in a healthy state and a vast majority of the members are very happy with the running of the association. So why should we shoot ourselves in the foot?" the member asked.
Interestingly, the Vidarbha Cricket Association (VCA), which is said to have implemented the Lodha Commission's recommendations, is to have 11 members in its apex council as against the recommended nine. Its SGM, as reported on its website, states, "The newly formed body will have one president, one vice-president (earlier two), one secretary, one joint secretary (earlier two), one treasurer, five executive members (earlier seven) and one member to be elected from the club (earlier five)."
"This newly formed committee will nominate a player each from among women and men cricketers who will have the right to participate in cricket-related discussions. Likewise, the nominee of the state accountant general will have the right to take part in financial matters. It is unclear if this arrangement of nominating a player and "for cricket-related discussions" would constitute toeing the Lodha Committee recommendations in toto," it said.
While the board may well have a genuine problem with getting state associations to amend their constitution and bringing them under one uniform act, the Supreme Court could smash through the resistance by passing a judicial order mandating it. But would that open a Pandora's Box, not in terms of the cricket board, but with regard to setting a precedent that could well affect all parties, companies, associations, trusts falling under the respective acts?
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