A new Supreme Court appointed panel of administrators, which will supersede the present BCCI office bearers, is expected to take over Indian cricket on Thursday.
The apex court is likely to take this watershed decision at the hearing where the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) is to give a progress report on implementing the Justice R M Lodha Committee’s recommendations.
With the Board rejecting most of Lodha’s suggestions at its special general meeting in Mumbai last week, the court will be left with no option but to clip the wings of BCCI’s high-profile officials, putting a question mark over their future as cricket administrators.
On the eve of judgment day, hoping for a last-minute relief, BCCI president Anurag Thakur wanted one last meeting with the Lodha committee to explain the practical problems in implementing reforms.
“Our members said they want to go back to court and explain their difficulties. Even the BCCI deserves justice, isn’t it?” he told The Indian Express.
But the plea didn’t cut any ice with the judges. Justice Lodha told this paper, “I don’t think anyone outside the court, anyone can change the court’s order.”
Though cricket circles were abuzz with speculation about SC’s impending decision, the writing seems to be on the wall: The BCCI is in for a complete overhaul.
Lodha added that his committee’s recommendations were non-negotiable. “BCCI must understand that initially, the SC formed our committee to suggest reforms, which we complied with after a year-long exercise. When we submitted the report on January 6, 2016, they were merely recommendations. But after that, the court heard the BCCI, who argued the matter and took all sorts of objections. After the elaborate hearing, SC pronounced its verdict and our report was merged with the SC verdict. It got a seal of approval from the SC. One may agree or may not agree but the judgment is binding and it should be respected,” he said.
The BCCI, on its part, has agreed to some recommendations but three major ones — one-state-one-vote, cooling-off period and three-year tenure — have not gone down well the majority of cricket officials. This is because if the three administrative reforms are implemented, almost the entire cricket officialdom would automatically get disqualified.
Lodha acknowledged that the BCCI would see a massive administrative void, but said he isn’t worried that the game would suffer. “It doesn’t happen, there is a huge pool of talent available. Nobody is indispensable. Given a chance, people will prove better. Administration should not be confined to a few people. They may even fail but it will be after they get an opportunity. It is no rocket science,” he said.
The BCCI, meanwhile, said that courts have been unfair to them. “Recently, there was a PIL filed in SC to bring transparency in the judicial system. Was that accepted, what was the outcome? Every organisation needs transparency, was that accepted by SC? They said there has to be a change in the law as per the law of the land. We are also dealing with the law of the land, which is the TN Societies Act. That’s why a three-fourth majority is needed to accept a reform; we can’t force members. If members have any objections, the court must listen or the Lodha committee must look into it,” Thakur said.