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  India   SC to BCCI: No minister, no bureaucrat, none over 70

SC to BCCI: No minister, no bureaucrat, none over 70

Published : Jul 19, 2016, 6:22 am IST
Updated : Jul 19, 2016, 6:22 am IST

To ensure transparency and accountability in the functioning of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), the Supreme Court on Monday accepted the major recommendations of the Lodha Committee,

Supreme Court of India. (Photo: PTI)
 Supreme Court of India. (Photo: PTI)

To ensure transparency and accountability in the functioning of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), the Supreme Court on Monday accepted the major recommendations of the Lodha Committee, including a bar on ministers and civil servants from holding any post and those above the age of 70 from becoming its members. But the court left it to Parliament to decide whether BCCI should come under RTI and whether to legalise betting in cricket or not.

The BCCI has been given six months’ time to implement the ruling and make all the necessary administrative changes.

Referring to the BCCI’s resistance to change, a bench of Chief Justice T.S. Thakur and Ibrahim Kalifulla said, “The truth is that resistance to change stems partly from people getting used to status quo and partly because any change is perceived to affect their vested interest in terms of loss of ego, status, power or resources. This is true particularly when the suggested change is structural or organisational which involves some threat, real or perceived, of personal loss to those involved. No wonder, therefore, that the portents of change which the recommendations made by the Lodha Committee, appointed by this court, symbolises are encountering stiff resistance from several quarters interested in continuance of the status quo.”

The CJI, writing the judgment, pointed out that the Lodha Committee came to the definite conclusion that BCCI has been suffering from many ills that had become endemic due to the apathy and involvement of those at the helm of the Board’s administration. The Committee had recorded a specific finding — that the problems faced by the BCCI have been compounded by the involvement/association of many high functionaries in the Central and state governments, some of whom had remained in charge of the administration of the BCCI for several decades.

While barring ministers and civil servants from holding any post in BCCI, the Bench said, “The argument that since ministerial and bureaucratic support and patronage has helped the BCCI in running its affairs in the past they should be allowed to continue, lest the game suffers, has not impressed us. We do not think that the game flourishes in this country because any minister or civil servant holds office in the state associations or BCCI.”

Rejecting the BCCI’s objections to the Committee’s recommendation for one-state-one-vote, the Bench said, “This is a measure which has been recommended with a view to structurally streamline the BCCI to make it more responsive and accountable, having regard to the aspiration of different regions for an equal opportunity to participate in the growth and promotion of the game in the country.”

The only reasonable and rational answer to the problem within the broad principle of one-state-one-vote, the court said, would be to allow the full membership of BCCI to rotate among the three clubs each (in Gujarat and Maharashtra) on an annual basis. “During the period, one of the associations would exercise rights and privileges of a full member, (while) the other two associations would act as associate members of BCCI. This rotational arrangement would give each member a right to vote at its turn without violating the broader principle of one-state-one-vote recommended by the Committee.”

On setting an upper age limit of 70 years, the Bench said, “There is no denying the fact that cricketers who play competitive cricket generally fall in the age group of 18 to 35 years. This implies that even after retirement from active cricket, anyone who has the potential to contribute to the game can do so for over three decades till he attains the age of 70. The upper age limit recommended by the Lodha Committee is not, therefore, unreasonable or irrational by any standard.” The age cap may impact the continuance of N. Srinivasan as president of TNCA as he has crossed the age of 70, and Nationalist Congress Party president Sharad Pawar’s aspirations as a cricket administrator. However, sources within the state associations say that it is yet unclear whether the age cap applies only to BCCI or local associations, too.

On BCCI’s opposition to having a CAG nominee on the grounds that the ICC will not accept it, the Bench said, “Far from finding fault with the presence of a nominee of the Accountant General of the State and CAG, the ICC would in our opinion appreciate any such step for the same would prevent misgivings about the working of the BCCI especially in relation to management of its funds and bring transparency and objectivity necessary to inspire public confidence in the fairness and the effective management of the affairs of the BCCI and the State Associations.”

The BCCI’s governing council (GC) shall now comprise nine members — two ex-officio members (secretary and treasurer), two members nominated or elected by full members, two nominees of IPL franchises, two from proposed players’ associations and one from CAG.

The court also accepted the Lodha Committee’s recommendation that no office-bearer should hold duel posts in the state as well as in the BCCI to avoid any conflict of interest, and said that there should be a player’s association in the BCCI and funding of players’ association, while leaving it to the Board to decide on the extent of funding.

The ban on holding dual posts will mean that BCCI President Anurag Thakur (Himachal Pradesh), secretary Ajay Shirke (Maharashtra), treasurer Aniruddh Chaudhary (Haryana) and joint secretary Amitabh Chaudhary (Jharkhand) will have to forego their positions in their respective state associations to avoid “conflict of interest”.

It also left it to the Board to decide whether there is need for any changes in the existing agreement relating to broadcasting rights and whether a franchise member should be in the Board to avoid any conflict of interest.

The bench requested the three-member Lodha Committee, also comprising former apex court judges Ashok Bhan and R.V. Raveendran to oversee the transition of administrative structure in BCCI which has to take place within six months.

The apex court-appointed Lodha Committee had on January 4 recommended sweeping reforms and an administrative shake-up at the troubled BCCI, suggesting that ministers be barred from occupying positions, a cap be put on the age and tenure of the office-bearers and that cricket betting be legalised.

Location: India, Delhi, New Delhi