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Lodha panel moves SC against BCCI over non-compliance

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New Delhi, Sep 28 (IANS) The Justice Lodha Committee on Wednesday sought the removal of Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) office-bearers, telling the Supreme Court that the apex governing body was not complying with its recommendations on organisational reforms.

As the Lodha Committee's counsel Gopal Shankarnarayan handed over the panel's report to the apex court, the bench headed by Chief Justice Tirath Singh Thakur observed, "If the BCCI thinks that they can defy the court's order and take the law into their own hands, they are mistaken."

Having observed this, the bench said it will hold a hearing on October 6 regarding the Lodha panel's report and the suggestion that the BCCI office-bearers should be removed en masse.

The report by the Lodha panel had accused BCCI of stalling reforms at every stage and violating the directions issued by the apex court.

Complaining that the BCCI had ignored the orders of the court and its recommendations on several issues, the Lodha panel sought action against the board's top brass, including BCCI President Anurag Thakur, for violating the apex court's orders.

"The BCCI thinks it is law unto itself. We know how to get our orders implemented. BCCI thinks it is the lord. You (BCCI) better fall in line or we will make you fall in line. The conduct of the BCCI is in poor taste," Chief Justice Thakur asserted.

The Lodha Committee, which was appointed by the Supreme Court to clean up cricket administration following corruption and match-fixing scandals, had earlier submitted its report advising far-reaching changes in the way the game is run in the country.

The BCCI president wasn't immediately available for comment when contacted by IANS, since he is currently attending a World Trade Organisation (WTO) Parliamentarian Forum, in Geneva, Switzerland.

Senior BCCI official and Indian Premier League (IPL) chairman Rajeev Shukla also refrained from commenting when contacted by IANS.

The recommendations by the panel sought to define stringent eligibility criteria for BCCI office-bearers and set limits to their tenure. Ministers and bureaucrats currently holding office will not be allowed to hold BCCI positions, neither would those officials holding office in their state associations or those above 70 years of age.

The Lodha Committee also recommended that there should be five elected office-bearers -- president, secretary and one vice-president instead of the current five, treasurer and joint secretary. The panel also proposed that these officials should serve no more than three three-year terms and that there must be a "cooling-off" period between terms to prevent them from holding office for several years at a stretch.

The Lodha panel's report had also recommended that the BCCI Working Committee should be replaced with a nine-member apex council which will include representatives from the players' community, including one woman.

There was also a proposal that a nominee of the Comptroller and Auditor General should be included in the apex council to keep an eye on how the BCCI was utilising its financial resources.

The Supreme Court had accepted all these recommendations and had asked the BCCI to implement them.

In its judgement on July 18, the apex court stated that no minister or government official can be an office-bearer of the national cricketing body. The Supreme Court also accepted the Lodha Committee recommendation of one state-one vote for representation in the BCCI.

In its 79-page status report submitted before the Supreme Court on Wednesday, the Lodha panel alleged that the BCCI has tried to stall the implementation of its recommendations.

The panel also alleged that the minutes of the BCCI's Annual General Meeting (AGM) held in Mumbai on September 21 was not handed over to them.

The committee also criticised several decisions taken at the AGM, including the unanimous election of Ajay Shirke as secretary of the BCCI for the remaining term; the appointment of the all India senior selection committee (men and women) asserting that they were in violation of its recommendations.

The Lodha Committee also opposed the AGM's decision to let Thakur represent the BCCI in the International Cricket Council (ICC) and Asian Cricket Council and the nomination of Maharashtra politician Sharad Pawar as alternate director at ICC meetings.

The committee also called into question the AGM's decision to let Ajay Shirke represent the board at the chief executives' committee meeting of the ICC.

The panel noted that the BCCI has reneged on its promise to formally adopt the new memorandum ushering in transparency on September 28, adding that the country's apex cricketing body has not even issued directives to the state associations despite express directions from the committee.

--IANS

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