Supreme Court will today hold a hearing on Indian cricket board’s 60-page affidavit that effectively said, ‘sorry we can’t do it, too many hassles, and er, why would we voluntarily give up power and prestige’.
On Tuesday, BCCI had filed a counter-affidavit raising anomalies in the recommendations and practical difficulties in complying with Lodha Committee report. Last couple of days also had advocates from a few state associations of the board scurrying to file affidavits. Unsurprisingly, the board and associations have opposed nearly every recommendation. The affidavit was a logical conclusion to the telephone calls, annual general body meetings and informal chats where the plan to oppose was strengthened.
“We will be opposing all recommendation of Lodha committee,” a BCCI official told The Indian Express. “As many state has gone to Supreme Court in their own capacity and we being the parent body of all state associations, can’t pick and choose on recommendation. We will be putting our case once again in the Hon. Supreme Court.”
The opposition to recommendations ran the whole gamut: one person, one post rule; tenure cap; age limit; bar on ministers and government servants from administration; one state, one vote that dilutes powers of a few associations; and creation of player association. Needless to say, they have also opposed a few off-key recommendations that sought to restrict advertisements to drink and session breaks and reduce the number of selectors from five to three. The board has also said acceptance of reforms would require cancellation of the BCCI’s registration under the Tamil Nadu Societies Registration Act which would create a big procedural wrangle relating to the assets of the board in terms of stadiums and infrastructure.
No one can accuse the Indian cricket board of falling in line meekly. Although, that was exactly what the Supreme Court told them to do less than a month ago. On February 5, the two-judge bench of Justices TS Thakur and FMI Kalifulla had sternly advised the BCCI to “fall in line” with the Lodha recommendations to save itself further trouble. “These recommendations deserve respect. They have come from well meaning members (of this court). They have presented viable and rational solutions. The best course is to fall in line and follow the suggestions to save the trouble.”
On that day, Shekhar Naphade, a senior advocate who represented BCCI, had talked about writings on the wall and said the board should not be seen as obstructionist.”It is not that we fail to see the writing on the wall, but these are sweeping changes… we need time to respond.” Naphade told the court then.
Almost a month later, on March 2, the BCCI has refused to see any wall scribblings. The counter-affidavit has cued up Indian constitution to oppose recommendations that the two-judge bench had termed “straight-forward, rational and understandable”.
Lodha-led panel had proposed a bar on ministers from becoming an administrator. The affidavit says that the prescription is infringes on fundamental rights granted by Article 19 (1) (c) of Indian Constitution that confers a right on the citizens to “form association or unions”.
It’s just not the board alone but its various associations that have filed counter affidavits. Consider the one filed last week in the Supreme Court by Tamil Nadu Cricket Association through N Srinivasan-backed secretary Kasi Viswanathan. This pertained to the nine-year tenure cap set by Lodha panel. The TNCA affidavit had called it “highly restrictive on the right to get elected in a democratic fashion and curb the enthusiasm of administrators to aspire for the higher positions in the cricket administration”. That recommendation would have knocked N Srinivasan and a host of other administrators out of power.
TNCA had also cited the case of Jacques Rogge who stood down as president of International Olympic Committee in 2013 at the age of 71 after serving 12 years. Incidentally, in an interview two years before he served out his term, Rogge had told the British daily The Telegraph: “I will be 71 when I step down and this is an organisation for young people”.
Not just TNCA but associations from Mumbai, Odisha, Punjab, Vadodara and others have also filed affidavits. The dissenting voice continues to come from Bihar where Aditya Verma has opposed these moves from the board.
It’s now up to the Supreme Court to decide. On February 4, the chief justice of India T S Thakur had pulled up BCCI. “Your members have been wielding power for long… The match is over. There will be no second innings here”. It remains to be seen whether the two-judges bench script a denouement to this saga today or whether the BCCI manages to wriggle out a second innings.