Aditya Verma, the Cricket Association of Bihar secretary who was the petitioner in the 2013 IPL spot-fixing case, has filed a petition before the Supreme Court seeking an “absolute implementation” of the Lodha Committee report on the BCCI’s administrative overhaul. A bench headed by the Chief Justice of India TS Thakur has agreed to hear the plea that mentioned the matter for urgent hearing.
“I was the person who filed the PIL on the IPL betting and spot-fixing. The report submitted by the Justice Lodha Committee on January 4 was the culmination of the whole episode. Now I want its absolute implementation. My prayer before the honorable Supreme Court would be to depute Justice RM Lodha to ensure all the recommendations are implemented by the BCCI,” Verma told The Indian Express.
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The Committee, in its report submitted on January 4, has recommended sweeping changes. But the BCCI appears to be ill at ease with the proposals like one state association-one vote, restrictions on ministers and government servants from assuming office, an age cap on the office-bearers and limiting their terms in office. The board officials feel most of the recommendations are “unimplementable”. The state associations, who have been asked by their parent body to study the report, seek expert/legal opinion and send their feedbacks, also share the same view.
On January 20, the Cricket Association of Bengal (CAB) office-bearers, past and present, met at the Eden Gardens to discuss the Lodha report and according to a source, the house “unanimously” felt that 90 per cent of the recommendations were not “feasible” to implement. The Special General Meeting (SGM) on January 29 will take a final call, but a CAB official believes that the meeting of the office bearers has set the tone.
“To be honest, we felt that it’s not practically possible to implement most of the recommendations. Like a member said during the discussion that if someone over the age of 70 is allowed to run the country, why should there be such a restriction in cricket? Also, no other sports association in the country has had such a clause imposed on them. As for the proposed ineligibility of the ministers/government servants, the Indian Constitution says all individuals have equal rights. So it would be unfair to single out Indian cricket. We are very much OK with the recommendations like maintaining transparency, appointing an independent auditor and limiting the terms of the office-bearers,” said the official on condition of anonymity.
The Mumbai Cricket Association (MCA), too, has shot down most of the recommendations, although it agreed with the suggestions related to ‘Transparency and Ethics’. “We have certain points pertaining to issues related to some suggestions of the committee, which may directly affect the interest of our association, which we need to protect,” the MCA said in its notice to the member clubs ahead of the AGM.
Unlike the punishments on Chennai Super Kings and Rajasthan Royals, and also Gurunath Meiyappan and Raj Kundra, the Lodha Committee recommendations on the BCCI’s administrative reforms are not binding on the cricket board. However, a mandate from the apex court can force its hand. Verma wants that.
Meanwhile, Verma has also lodged a complaint before the BCCI’s independent ombudsman Justice AP Shah to take action against the Board for granting associate membership to his rival faction in the state, Bihar Cricket Association. Bihar cricket is split into two factions with the BCA and the CAB at loggerheads. Verma claims the BCA has been wrongly given the membership when two BCCI employees, Prof Ratnakar Shetty and KVP Rao visited the state on January 9. “To the shock and surprise of the CAB, on 9th January, Prof Ratnakar Shetty and KVP Rao visited Patna and met Abdul Bari Siddiqui, the president of one of the factions of the BCA and declared to the press that BCA was being recognised by the Board as an associate member and it will be responsible for organising associate tournaments,” Verma said in his letter.
“This is being done only to ensure Cricket Association of Bihar doesn’t get its due recognition as a full member. You are, therefore, requested to take urgent action against the Board to ensure that the stand taken before the Hon’ble Supreme Court be sustained, and also that the Cricket Association of Bihar not be prejudiced in the matters before the Hon’ble Supreme Court,” he added.