How BCCI and cricket in India will be affected as Lodha committee recommendations are accepted by SC
In a landmark verdict, the Supreme Court has accepted the majority of the recommendations put forward by the Lodha Committee on matters of cricket governance at the state and national levels. The order was delivered on Monday afternoon by the two-judge bench comprising Chief Justice of India TS Thakur and Justice Ibrahim Kalifulla.
The BCCI has been given a time frame of six months to implement the accepted recommendations with the former Chief Justice of India RM Lodha overseeing the transition.
Justice Lodha has predictably expressed his happiness over the verdict that will ensure radical restructuring in cricket administration in the country. “It’s a great day for Indian cricket. I’m sure that BCCI will implement the recommendations at the earliest,” Justice Lodha said.
BCCI president Anurag Thakur has however remained tight-lipped stating that he would 'study' the recommendations in the judgement. Here are five key takeaways from the landmark verdict.
The Supreme Court directive to implement the Lodha Committee recommendations confirms that some powerful wings in the BCCI will be clipped.— Dileep Premachandran (@SpiceBoxofEarth) July 18, 2016
One state, one vote system
Perhaps the most important recommendation by the Lodha Committee that was upheld by the Supreme Court in its verdict was the one state, one vote policy. If certain states that have host multiple cricket associations should continue to enjoy more than one vote has long been a matter of administrative debate.
Now with the verdict advocating one vote for each state, several institutions like Railways & Services will now lose their voting privileges. The hardest hit will perhaps be states like Gujarat and Maharashtra that house multiple cricket associations like Maharashtra Cricket Association and Vidarbha, and Baroda and Saurashtra respectively.
These several state associations will now have to exercise their voting rights on a rotational basis for a fixed period of time.
Kapil Sibal had argued during the hearing, "This would mean those who have historically and till present time furthered cricketing activity in the region like Baroda Cricket Association would lose their permanent membership in the cricket board while those who have no cricketing activity would get a huge say in the board.
"This is a sure way to bring in huge politics in the affairs of BCCI as those contesting elections would attempt to garner their support."
The BCCI had also argued that the one state, one vote policy was disrespectful of the history behind the formation of the BCCI as the era of the Bombay Presidency or the Maharaja of Baroda are being conveniently forgotten.
Foresee much discomfort because of the one state one vote issue; especially in key states of Gujarat and Maharashtra that have 3 teams each— Harsha Bhogle (@bhogleharsha) July 18, 2016
Ministers and bureaucrats cannot hold positions in the BCCI
Accepting the recommendation by the Lodha Committee, the apex court also laid down clear eligibility criteria for the office bearers, clearly stating that ministers and bureaucrats will not be allowed to hold any BCCI positions from now on.
The move is being read as an effective culmination of a long-term effort in some quarters to separate governmental politics from national cricket administration. The BCCI had argued that government officials should be allowed to serve as cricket administrators as they have functioned efficiently till date, helping the cricket board to cut through red-tape while hosting world-class events.
But the BCCI's argument was rejected by the Supreme court in its verdict. The Lodha Committee's recommendation that that there be five elected office-bearers - president, secretary, one vice-president instead of the current five, treasurer and joint-secretary - with each serving no more than three three-year terms with a cooling off period in between was also accepted by the court.
The verdict has also ensured that there is no conflict of interest henceforth as administrators cannot be politicians or bureaucrats and they can effectively hold only one admistrative post at a time.
Age limit of 70 years for the BCCI office bearers
The Supreme Court also accepted the recommendation of the Lodha Committee stipulating that no office bearer of the BCCI can be more than 70 years of age. This would also be applicable for state associations and thus hamper the fortunes of several current members of the BCCI.
N. Srinivasan who heads the Tamil Nadu Cricket Association (TNCA), MCA president Sharad Pawar and Saurashtra Cricket Association's Niranjan Shah are some of the biggest names to be hit hard by this verdict.
“While we respect the verdict of the Supreme Court, it is unfortunate if our president (Pawar) has to step down from his post, especially given the progress Mumbai cricket has made in the last 15 years under his leadership,” said P.V. Shetty, joint secretary of MCA.
A TNCA official added, “We have to accept the SC order, even if it affects our president. We did object to it legally, but now that the order is out, it is obvious that it has been overruled.”
A CAG nominee to watch over the utilisation of BCCI's resources
The Supreme Court has also accepted the Lodha Committee's recommendation that a nominee of the Comptroller and Auditor General will watch over the BCCI to ensure a fair utilisation of its vast resources. The proposals to bring the BCCI under the Right to Information (RTI) act and legalise betting in the country will however require ratification from the parliament.
BCCI's counsel KK Venugopal had objected to the proposal arguing that the appointment of the CAG nominee will lead to unnecessary government interference in matters of administration.
The apex court countered the argument by asking the BCCI why it was choosing to call a conscience keeper the government nominee when it had no problem with having a minister or a bureaucrat in their ranks as an administrator.
The court also ratified the formation of a nine-member Apex Council, in place of the BCCI Working Committee, which will include representations from the players' community including one woman.
'No ads between the overs' proposal dismissed by the Supreme Court
In what is being considered to be a major relief for the BCCI, the Supreme Court verdict dismissed the Lodha Committee recommendation on banning advertisements between overs. The BCCI could have incurred a significant loss of revenues had this recommendation been accepted by the apex court.
The BCCI had argued, "The panel suggests removing advertisements between overs just because they've been told 'there are too many ads'. They could've spoken to the broadcaster who has a lot at stake, the BCCI which is the world's richest cricket body majorly because of revenue generated through the broadcast, sponsors and more importantly the advertiser.
"The entire cricket industry operates through this channel and the panel did not find it necessary to speak to anyone."
It has come as a huge relief to the BCCI that the Supreme Court has given the board the freedom to govern its own broadcasting policy.
There is relief on the revenue front since the Court has allowed the BCCI to determine its own methods of monetising air time— Harsha Bhogle (@bhogleharsha) July 18, 2016