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BCCI vs Lodha panel: SC opts for top-down reform, but officer-bearers' removal only the first step

The Supreme Court pushed the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) into fresh turmoil by stripping its president and secretary of their powers in a landmark judgment on Monday.

The decision is expected to close a chapter in the history of BCCI and ultimately usher in BCCI version 2.0. How well this operates and contributes to the growth and development of cricket only time will tell.

File photo of Anurag Thakur. AFP

File photo of Anurag Thakur. AFP

The court on Monday held that the Lodha Committee report shall be observed in toto, thus rejecting the board’s plea for doing away with the 70 years age cap, one state one vote and term of office restriction with prospective effect. These were the three points that the BCCI was vehemently opposed to.

Apparently, through the Lodha reforms, an attempt is being made to foist a professional set up in cricket administration, never mind that no association, organisation or body is run professionally in India.

The intention is that the governance of the BCCI, and by extension state associations, would be distinct from its management. The management would be in the hands of a CEO whose term of office could be indeterminate, like that of the CEO of a corporate entity. But the term of office of the apex council, supposedly on the lines of a company’s board of directors, would be limited and would lead to fresh voices, thoughts and ideas. The CEO would, of course, have a seat in the apex council along with a representative of the players’ association and Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG).

To get the reforms in the BCCI set-up going, a committee of administrators would be nominated by senior advocate Fali Nariman and Gopal Subramaniam, as decreed by the court. The committee is expected to be filled with persons of impeccable integrity.

The surprising aspect of the judgment is that the court has not done away with all the office-bearers. Instead it has directed that the senior-most vice-president among TC Mathew (West Zone), CK Khanna (Central), Gautam Roy (East), ML Nehru (North) and D Ganga Raju (South) to act as president of the board, with the joint secretary, Amitabh Choudhary, filling in as the secretary. They would make the BCCI a Lodha Committee-compliant body.

It is not clear at the time of writing if the Lodha recommendations (non-politician, below 70 years of age and maximum of nine years as office-bearer) would apply to the vice-presidents. If it did at least three of them could be ruled out.

The apex council, once in place, would oversee that the state associations too comply with the Supreme Court directions and remodel themselves on the lines of the new-look BCCI. Those that insist otherwise would probably be allowed to continue as such, except that they would be derecognised by the BCCI.

A parallel state body would probably be encouraged to be formed and this would adhere to the recommendations of the Lodha committee.

This would ensure that the court would not have to pass a judicial order countermanding the Registrar of Societies Act or Companies Act under which some of the current state associations are formed. Else that could lead to not just state cricket associations, but also many political parties, theatre companies, corporate and hundreds and thousands of such organisations across India getting hit.

On the other hand, the court has opted for a top-down reformation push and the re-organisation of the BCCI’s office-bearers is just the first step. In subsequent months the state units that wish to stay within the BCCI fold would have to fall in line. Else, they would have to step aside and watch a parallel state unit take over.

While this might be a great strategy for the reorganisation of the BCCI and its state units, there is no doubt that disgruntled people and those incapable of winning elections have got a shot in the arm. Their sneaking into the fray might well cause a lot of confusion and disruption in the short-term. But the fact that the Lodha reforms allow them just a three-year term before having to cool their heels is probably the saving grace.

Additionally, a good CEO with an efficient army of administrators could be a deterrent to bad elements. But the question is: are there many such CEOs around? Importantly, wouldn’t a dynamic, young professional CEO use a state association/unit as just a stepping stone to greener pastures in MNCs and overseas?

Actually Indian problems need Indian solutions. Aping Cricket Australia or some other sports body of a Western country is hardly the recipe for a sound system. Sometimes someone with a bit of love for the sport and a lot of love for the exposure it brings could be a better option than a career-driven professional. Time will tell.

Updated Date: Jan 02, 2017 16:03 PM

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