The Supreme Court Thursday approved a new draft constitution for the BCCI, with a few tweaks. A look at what it means
What is the SC order about?
The order was passed following a “comprehensive exercise” that involved the amicus curiae taking suggestions from all stakeholders involved with the Board, including the Committee of Administrators (CoA), state associations and office-bearers. The CoA’s original draft constitution was prepared in accordance with the recommendations of the Justice Lodha committee that had looked at the functioning of the Board. After the SC approved these in 2016, the BCCI raised a number of objections and even had a review petition dismissed. The slight modifications to the final draft — with relation to the “one state, one vote” and “cooling period” issues —that were approved Thursday indicate that the BCCI’s objections have been addressed.
What is the “cooling off” issue?
According to the Lodha panel report, “no officer-bearer either at state or BCCI level was eligible to contest for a succeeding election” and would have to serve a three-year cooling period following each term. The BCCI had raised many objections, stating that every office-bearer needed some form of continuity to “apply his knowledge and experience to the administration of the game”, or to strengthen the BCCI’s clout within the ICC. The new constitution has found middle ground, allowing all office-bearers to serve two consecutive terms (six years) before they serve a necessary cooling-off period, but sticking to the maximum cumulative term of nine years. These include terms at both state and BCCI level, and/or a combination of both.
What does this mean to the current BCCI leadership?
It means there will be a new-look BCCI — all the present office-bearers, including Amitabh Choudhary, Anirudh Chaudhry, Rajeev Shukla and Anurag Thakur, have served nine or more years either on the various committees or as office-bearers. It also means that Sourav Ganguly, one of the prominent office-bearers in the Cricket Association of Bengal, can be in the running for a top BCCI position.
And what is “one state, one vote”?
Under the “one state, one vote” recommendation by the Lodha panel, the idea was to ensure representation for every state in the BCCI. The panel had also asked for only one association from each state to be considered a full member and have voting rights. Maharashtra and Gujarat, for example, have three associations each. The BCCI had argued that their geography was different, brought up how some of the smaller states had no cricketing culture, and argued that “one state, one vote” might end up compromising the influence of established cricketing bastions such as Mumbai and Baroda. Eventually, the BCCI had its way with the new draft constitution restoring full membership to all three associations in both states.
What are the other major takeaways from the ruling?
A key one concerns the full membership status for Railways, Services and the Universities. The Lodha panel had recommended stripping them of full membership with a view that this would mean the end of government influence on the BCCI’s functioning. A widely held view is that the party in power in New Delhi has control over these institutional votes. The BCCI argued against stripping of full membership, on the ground that the Railways had employed more cricketers than any other institution in the country. The Supreme Court has agreed with the Board’s view .
What next for the BCCI and the CoA?
The BCCI CEO will present the new constitution to the Registrar of Societies under the Tamil Nadu Societies Registration Act. The Registrar will then register them with the court within four weeks. The state associations then have 30 days to register their respective constitutions and provide a compliance report to the CoA. The CoA will conduct elections at state level, and the newly elected bodies will send their nominees to the BCCI. The new BCCI will adopt the new constitution and then elect their representatives. The CoA had said earlier that this whole process from now on should be completed within 120 days.
What does the new structure broadly mean?
At no point has the BCCI had a holistically professional setup, with paid employees executing the decisions adopted by elected members. Even now, part-time office-bearers were performing executive roles. And it’s this professional makeover that Justice Lodha and his panel were keen on bringing in. The new structure will allow employed professionals to execute the decisions made by the Apex Council, which for the first time will have well-rounded representation, including players and women cricketers.
Will the BCCI finally have more transparency?
It is likely, with the BCCI set to come under the RTI Act based on the Lodha panel recommendations and with the appointment of an ombudsman, an election officer and an ethics officer. “If you want to ensure accountability and transparency in such an organisation, information must be available to the public at large,” Lodha had said on the RTI Act.