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Sunday, July 22, 2018

Lodha committee slams door shut on cricket bosses

Lodha committee’s latest directives, issued through FAQs, debar likes of Anurag Thakur and Ajay Shirke to return to the BCCI even as nominees

Written by Shamik Chakrabarty | Kolkata | Updated: January 13, 2017 8:44:08 am
cricket, BCCI, Lodha committee, Supreme Court, Anurag Thakur, Ajay Shirke, BCCI, cricket news Ajay Shirke, BCCI’s secretary at the start of the year, is now just a general member of the Maharashtra Cricket Association. File

The Lodha committee has cleared the ambiguities, closed the loopholes and bolted the backdoor entry of the ousted/disqualified BCCI and state associations office-bearers’ into Indian cricket administration. The Supreme Court-appointed committee’s latest set of directives, issued through FAQs, debar the likes of Anurag Thakur and Ajay Shirke to return to the BCCI even as a nominee of their respective state units. But not only the erstwhile BCCI president and secretary, the committee, in fact, has sent almost the whole gamut of the BCCI, and state associations, into cricket administrative retirement.

The FAQs have been uploaded on the Lodha committee website on Thursday upon receiving various queries from different parts of the country. The directives clears the ambiguities over the nine-year cumulative clause, saying it would be applicable concurrently to the BCCI and state units. If someone has completed nine years in a state association as an office-bearer, he/she won’t be eligible for an office-bearer post in the BCCI as well and vice-versa. It clarifies that Sourav Ganguly will have to go for a three-year cooling off period after June this year, virtually ruling him out as the next BCCI president. It also explains why Shirke and the other removed/disqualified officials cannot return to the BCCI as nominees of their respective state associations.

The Supreme Court in its January 2 order had removed Thakur and Shirke from their posts of BCCI president and secretary respectively for noncompliance. The nine-year cumulative clause in the committee recommendations, accepted by the apex court, made them, and also every other BCCI official, ineligible to hold office in their respective state associations as well. Accordingly, the managing committee of the Maharashtra Cricket Association (MCA) nominated a new panel of office-bearers with Abhay Apte as the president. But during the meeting, a resolution was passed that Shirke would continue to represent the MCA in the BCCI in all meetings. Shirke now stands disqualified in that capacity as well.

“A disqualified office bearer is no longer to be associated with cricket administration. He/she is disqualified from being a representative or nominee of the member association or the BCCI and cannot discharge any other role in or on behalf of the association or the BCCI. He/she cannot function within the association in any patron or advisory capacity nor be a member of a committee or council,” the committee said.

It means Shirke has now been relegated to a general member of the MCA. So is Thakur in the Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association, Anirudh Chaudhry in Haryana, Amitabh Choudhary in Jharkhand and the list goes on.

Even after the Supreme Court’s amended January 3 order, confusion prevailed in Indian cricket administration about the nine-year cumulative period, because the Lodha committee, in its original report, had mentioned the nine-year disqualification clause would apply separately to the BCCI and state associations. The panel has now altered it as per the court directive. “In view of the order dated 2.1.2017 as amended by the order dated 3.1.2017, an individual is disqualified from being the office bearer of the BCCI or the state/member association if he/she has been an office bearer of the BCCI or the state/member association for 9 years,” it said.

Ganguly out of presidential race

With administrators set to take charge of the BCCI on January 19 to oversee the implementation of the Lodha reforms in toto, the Indian cricket board’s administration will undergo a radical overhaul. Fresh elections will be held after adopting the new constitution with a new president coming in. The Cricket Association of Bengal (CAB) president Sourav Ganguly was said to be a high-profile contender. But his name kept cropping up because of the present administrative vacuum.

There had been different interpretations about whether Ganguly would be eligible. He became the CAB joint-secretary in 2014 and was promoted to president next year following Jagmohan Dalmiya’s death. His first term as an office-bearer ends in June this year. A section of the CAB believed that the restriction, and the ensuing cooling off period, is applicable post-wise, allowing Ganguly to qualify for the BCCI presidentship. The Lodha Committee, however, has clarified that Ganguly will have to go for a mandatory three-year cooling off period after June 2017. Ganguly has only six more months in his first term and that makes him practically ineligible to be a BCCI presidential candidate.

“If at the time of the election, the existing office bearer has not completed a period of 3 years, he is eligible to contest the election. However, he will not have a full term and will have to demit office immediately upon the continuous 3 year period being completed. This is to avoid any potential abuse,” the committee said.

Ganguly on Thursday was asked about his future course of action amid a resignation gossip. “I haven’t resigned. I haven’t decided yet. Let’s see,” he said.

Dey disqualified

In another directive, the Lodha Committee also ended CAB treasurer Biswarup Dey’s career in cricket administration. Dey had claimed that he hadn’t completed nine years at the state association, because his two years as an assistant secretary shouldn’t be counted as office-bearer. But Rule iii, sub-rule xxv of the CAB constitution defines assistant secretary as an office-bearer, making Dey ineligible to continue.

The Lodha committee has also clarified that state associations can hold elections (“subject to orders of any court”) before duly amending their constitutions. This comes with a rider though: “If any election is held which is inconsistent with the committee’s report and the judgment of the Supreme Court, then the same will be treated as void and with no legal sanctity.”

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