The Board of Control for Control for Cricket in India can breathe a bit easier after the Supreme Court on Thursday decided to set aside some of the controversial recommendations of the Justice Lodha committee.
The newly approved draft constitution effectively dilutes the court’s earlier order on a tenure cap for office bearers and reinstating voting rights of four legacy cricket associations. In a string of rulings in the long-running case involving the Board of Control for Cricket in India, the apex court, however, warned state associations that they face action if they don’t adopt the new constitution in the next 30 days.
The controversial one-state-one-vote rule has been rescinded and there won’t be a cooling off period till two consecutive terms. Subsequently, the Supreme Court has given full membership status to the Mumbai Cricket Association, Saurashtra, Vidarbha Cricket Association, Railways, Services and Varsities Association.
Earlier, the BCCI had announced that 12 out of its 37 state units (including North Eastern States) had submitted a common four-point suggestion to amicus curiae Gopal Subramanium with regard to amending the Lodha recommendations.
The four points that the affiliated units showed resistance to was the implementation of the one-state-one-vote policy, the cooling-off period (after every three years), the constitution of the apex council, and the distribution of power and functions between elected representatives and professionals.
The three-member Supreme Court bench headed by Chief Justice of India Deepak Misra had instructed all the affiliated units of BCCI to file their suggestions with regards to clauses which they are finding practically difficult to implement.
Relief for BCCI
While some associations have promised to adopt the charter – written in compliance with the Supreme Court-appointed Lodha Committee – most continue to oppose it on the grounds that it puts a cap on the age and tenure of office bearers.
The ruling, especially on the “cooling-off” norm as well as “one-state, one vote”, comes as a relief to BCCI, which has questioned the feasibility of the Lodha recommendations.
The committee had recommended a cooling off period after just one tenure, instead of two. It had also recommended the “one-state, one-vote” policy, due to which some city and regional cricket associations like Mumbai and Saurashtra had lost their place in BCCI, which was allowed to give membership only to state associations.
The Supreme Court, in its July 18, 2016 verdict, accepted most of the recommendations of the Lodha committee,which was formed in January 2015 under retired Justice R M Lodha’s charge with the aim to reform the BCCI following charges of large-scale maladministration.
Thursday’s ruling, however, waters down key recommendations of the panel.
In approving the draft constitution, Misra also asked the registrar general of Tamil Nadu Societies to bring on record the approved BCCI constitution within four weeks. The BCCI’s constitution is registered in Tamil Nadu.
The bench – also comprising Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud – restored permanent membership to Railways, Services and Universities, which are not full cricket associations but are “boards”.
On July 5, the apex court had restrained all state cricket bodies from holding elections till it pronounced the verdict on finalisation of the draft constitution of the BCCI.
The Lodha panel had recommended a slew of structural reforms in BCCI which were approved by the apex court. The court had approved these recommendations, including ‘one state, one vote’, ‘one member, one post’ and fixing an age cap of 70 years on those occupying BCCI posts.
In the earlier hearing, the counsel for Tamil Nadu Cricket Association (TNCA) had opposed the cooling-off period for the office bearers suggested by the Lodha panel, and said there should be continuity of experience. The TNCA had also objected to the age cap of 70 years for office bearers as suggested by the panel.
The top court had earlier asked state cricket associations and BCCI office-bearers to give suggestions on the draft constitution for the apex cricket body to the amicus, saying these have to be in tune with the Lodha panel recommendations and its verdict.
The Lodha panel was formed in the wake of the Justice Mukul Mudgal Committee report that called for reforms in the BCCI. The Mudgal panel had gone into the state of affairs of the BCCI, following the 2013 IPL betting and spot-fixing controversy.
COA welcomes move
Committee of Administrators chief Vinod Rai welcomed the Supreme Court order on mandatory cooling off period for BCCI office-bearers after two consecutive terms and for putting a roadmap in place for the Board’s elections.
‘’This is an excellent order. I have absolutely no problem with office-bearers having two consecutive terms. Even I had originally wanted a six year term before cooling off period but couldn’t get consensus,’’ Rai told PTI on what is being seen as the most significant aspect of the order.
Read more from Vinod Rai here.
(With PTI inputs)