With the Supreme Court giving the BCCI a six-month deadline to implement Justice R.M. Lodha’s game-changing recommendations, the start of 2017 is expected to coincide with Indian cricket’s new beginning. So by early next year, as is wanted by the SC, the BCCI will see several firsts. Aging officials crossing 70 will mostly watch the game on television, north-east will be on a stronger wicket and more former players would turn decision-makers. But most importantly, the BCCI, that erstwhile cozy club, would have opened its doors to some inquisitorial outsider with weighty designations like ethic officers, the CAG nominee and ombudsman. The report insists, that the all-powerful ombudsman with the power of suo moto intervention in all cricket disputes, will have to be a retired judge. Either it doesn’t trust the BCCI enough or it’s enjoying the tight grip on the world’s richest cricketing body, but the judiciary isn’t in a mood to leave the cricket field.
The watershed judgment has taken pains to explain that they aren’t over-reaching, nor are they trying to undermine the BCCI’s autonomy. The court held that the BCCI was not a “state” and was amenable to the writ jurisdiction as it was discharging important public functions. On the other hand, the BCCI’s argument of the Lodha report being merely recommendatory in nature, and not binding, as they were a society enjoying constitutional protection too didn’t sway the judges. This legal setback is expected to make the BCCI more conscious of its duties and shrink the swagger of the suits that rule cricket.
Defeated and deflated, the BCCI has tried playing the victim but it has failed to muster sympathy. India’s unquenchable passion for cricket ensures automatic full house and the unquestionable corporate interest translates into unending sponsorship, without accountability. Over the years, these favourable factors made India cricket’s global hub. By implementing the Lodha recommendations, the BCCI will be better-governed and better-placed to be cricket’s real world leader.